Pequot Lakes will continue discussions with Breezy Point regarding fire protection services.
That consensus came at the Pequot Lakes City Council’s regular meeting Tuesday, Oct. 5, and after the council last month indicated it wasn’t interested in a draft fire district proposal from Breezy Point.
“In general, the fire department members and myself agree that partnering with Breezy Point in some way is beneficial,” Mayor Tyler Gardner said, adding Breezy Point is the city’s biggest contracting entity for fire services, which is a financial benefit to the city.
Fire Chief Tom Nelson agreed: “We need to keep negotiations with Breezy Point because we don’t want to lose them as a contracting entity.”
Pequot Lakes has fire contracts with the cities of Breezy Point and Jenkins, as well as the townships of Jenkins, Loon Lake, Moose Lake, Pelican and Poplar. Contract costs are mostly based on building market values in those entities. Because of that, the price Breezy Point pays for fire protection services is nearly what Pequot Lakes pays.
Nelson said Breezy Point is exploring options to form its own fire department or to work with other area fire departments to bring equipment into that city’s public safety building where Pequot Lakes keeps trucks and equipment.
Pequot Lakes and Breezy Point need to work together because of the proximity of the two cities, Nelson said.
"They want to be a partner at the table because they’re investing dang near as much money as we are."
— Tyler Gardner, Pequot Lakes mayor
Gardner said he recently met with the Breezy Point mayor, and that city does prefer to stay with Pequot Lakes and likes the fire services the city provides.
“They want to be a partner at the table because they’re investing dang near as much money as we are,” Gardner said, adding Breezy Point wants to be a joint partner with Pequot Lakes for fire service.
That could mean a fire board with an equal number of Pequot Lakes and Breezy Point representatives that possibly would make recommendations to the two city councils.
“Both cities would have to agree on everything,” he said.
Gardner doesn’t know the answer, but said having the two cities work together must be explored further.
"We need to keep negotiations with Breezy Point because we don’t want to lose them as a contracting entity."
— Tom Nelson, Pequot Lakes fire chief
Council member Scott Pederson said he supported continued conversation, including discussion on the whole broad issue. For example, how much money would Pequot Lakes save if it had a smaller fire department that didn’t service such a wide area, he asked.
“I don’t know, but do we need to consider it?” he asked.
A committee including Nelson, Gardner, council member Cheri Seils, City Administrator Rich Spiczka and some firefighters will meet to talk about the issue further.
Council member Pete Clement was absent Oct. 5.
The council hired Kiel Rustad as a part-time police officer. Rustad is an emergency medical technician who has completed his education to be a police officer and his Police Officer Standards and Training testing.
Police reported 225 monthly calls for service.
Firefighters had 13 calls in August, including seven to Pequot Lakes, three to Breezy Point, two to Loon Lake Township and one to Pine River. Calls included motor vehicle accidents, grass fires and a mutual aid structure fire.
Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.