By Chief Larry Simms
The Hauser Lake Fire Department was organized in 1952 by residents within the community to provide some means of fire protection for the area. The first fire station was a 20- by 14-foot brick building with an oil stove to keep water from freezing inside the station.
The department’s first truck was a 1934 Chevrolet truck with a 500-gallon tank and a small pump on the back. We still own that fire truck and it is displayed in area parades.
The original fire station was hit by a car, which made it unusable so a new pole building was built to serve as the fire station. Part of the project included a community room for groups like the Boy Scouts, 4-H and others to use. That building has had two additions since then to accommodate our growing needs.
In 1975 the Hauser Lake Fire Protection District was officially chartered as a taxing fire district by the state of Idaho. Our District covers approximately 20 square miles of a combination of residential, commercial and urban interface (forest land).
In the years since that first fire truck, we have purchased several vehicles and converted them to the fire service. We have had used utility and ex-military trucks that have been surplused by various government agencies and then modified by our members for use as fire trucks.
The first “true” fire engine we obtained was a 1952 American LaFrance pumper purchased by the Mobbs family and, after three tries, was eventually bought by the fire district. Our current fleet now consists of a 2009 type II ambulance used for medical calls; a 1966 military chassis converted to supply 2000 gal water with a pump; a 2009 Pumper/Tender; a 2001 compressed air foam brush truck; a 2006 Spartan pumper, purchased with a $245,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security; a 1998 support vehilce; a fire boat obtained through cooperation with the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department; and a 2001 command vehicle.
We currently respond to an average of 175 to 200 emergency calls per year providing emergency medical services, fire suppression, fire prevention, education, inspections, rescue and mutual aid to other departments in the county. Members of our department also participate in countywide emergency planning, coordination and response in the event of a major emergency.
Over the years the Hauser Lake Fire Protection District has been a leader in Kootenai County emergency services. For example, among our members we have one of the original ice rescue trainers in the state, Gary Mobbs, who is also a member of the sheriff dive rescue team. Also, the Neils family manufactures one of the leading gas powered ventilation fans used in firefighting and has several family members involved in the department. Many of our volunteers are leaders in their industries as well as providing training to other firefighters throughout the state.
Our volunteers have helped us to provide a professional service to the community at a very economical cost. In addition we have received over $1,500,000 in grants, for our department and the county, since 2000, helping to keep the tax burden to our residents as low as possible while providing a level of protection equivalent to communities many times our size in both population and budgets.