Explorers History

History of the Richland Center Fire Explorers – Post 2106

In the summer of 1987, the members of the Richland Center Fire Department under then Chief Francis Burke, decided to begin looking into starting what was known as a fire explorer group.  This would be a group of young men or women who had an interest in public service, particularly the fire service, who would be trained in the essentials of firefighting and assist the Richland Center Fire Department with fire calls and activities.

The Boy Scouts of America was contacted and it was determined that insurance for these young members would be covered by the Boy Scouts.  It was decided to give the program a try and see how things went.

Members of the Fire Department volunteered to be the first advisors for the group.   Fire Captain Barry Roghair was the lead advisor with William Muth Jr. also an advisor.  Captain Roghair established the administrative paperwork to start the group.  The advisors, Chief Burke, and the Fire Department Officers began to decide on training.  Firefighters turned to their families to seek interest in the group. The children of the firefighters began talking with their peers and interest grew rapidly among young people in the community.

On November 1, 1987, the first gathering of the Richland Center Fire Explorers – Post 2106 was brought to order.  This was known as the “first nighter”.  Those in attendance included Pat Bauer, Dan Brewer, Chad Kanable, Arnold Fruit and Corey Kanable.  The first meeting was held on November 15, 1987.  The same young men attended and welcomed a new member, Steve Krueger.  Chad Kanable was elected the first Post President, Pat Bauer was elected the first Vice President, and Dan Brewer was elected secretary.

To have a post in existence, a post charter was created through the Boy Scouts of America.  On that charter was the agreed upon name, the Richland Rangers Fire Explorers – Post 2106.  A cap of twelve members would be established, a cap that would be increased in years to come to fifteen due to the early success and interest in the group.

The group started out with instruction from their advisors.  Within about a year, full body rain suits were purchased for the group by the fire department.  Blue plastic construction helmets were also issued to the members.  It was decided that the members needed something for protection as they assisted the department.  Rules had already been established by the department and by the Boy Scouts of America that a fire explorer would not do any interior firefighting, nor would they be put in a position of imminant danger on a fire scene.  They could help on the exterior of a structure fire and assist with mop up after fires occurred.  Later, they would be visited in a meeting by then Richland Center Police Chief Craig Chicker who would teach them techniques for traffic direction.  The group would add this to their list of duties when the help was needed.

On_____________, the Richland Center Fire Department was called to an address on Orange St. known as M & A Repair and Recycling.  Chief Francis Burke saw a need for the Fire Explorers, and made the first call out for help to them during a school day.  The fire explorer members were all seated in class at the Richland Center High School.  The school was at the corner of Third St and Park St. then.  In the middle of class, school administration broke in on the intercom giving the following announcement:  “Would the following students please report to the office immediately:  Chad Kanable, Pat Bauer, Steve Krueger, Dan Brewer, Arnold Fruit, and Corey Kanable.  The members knew the reason once they heard their names called, they knew they were going to a fire.  The members reported to the High School Office where they were told that the Fire Chief wanted them to respond to the fire station and await assignment.

There was a brief meeting in the main entry way of the Park St. side of the multi story school, as the members discussed how to get everyone to the station.  This was the first time anything like this had happened, and everyone was more than ready to go.  Steve Krueger was the only one at school that day who had a vehicle.  He and Pat Bauer and Chad Kanable left in Krueger’s tan Chevrolet S-10 pick up truck.  Dan Brewer went with Arnold Fruit on the back of his motorcycle.  The members were taken to the fire scene and assisted with mop up.  Some were on hose lines, some were on had tools, but all were excited to be a part of the fire scene.  The members were released from the fire before school was out for the day, so they reported back to the High School just prior to the end of the day.  They resumed their normal activities and answered many questions from fellow students and staff about their fire experience.