Get to know us

Services and history

The Clear Lake Fire Department was organized in 1871. The Department’s organization was a result of a serious fire on January 4, 1871, when Coates Brothers Furniture Store and building near it belonging to McGrows were damaged. This caused immediate clamor for a Fire Department, and immediately upon the town becoming incorporated, one of the first tasks was the establishment of the Fire Department.

The Department was known as Clear Lake Fire Company No. 1. The Department consisted of not more than 30 men. Originally a bucket brigade and long poles to push walls in were the fire equipment of choice. In 1883 Clear Lake purchased one Bulton Hand Water Engine, one chain gear hose cart, now on exhibit in the Clear Lake Fire Museum, and 300 feet of hose. The department also had six Babcock Extinguishers. In 1925 the Ahrens-Fox pumper, also on exhibit in the museum, was placed into service. It served until the Junior High School Fire in 1975.

Clear Lake’s historical fires consist of Coats Brothers Furniture Store, Mirror Reporter, Ms. Collins Building, Bromley Shoe Store, Hinds and Sandry Warehouse, Oaks Hotel, R.E. Nelsons Livery Barn, School Building 1912, Billy's Casino, Surf Ballroom, Ward Furniture Store, Bass Pharmacy, Camp Ground Cottages, Ice House, Tom Tom Ballroom, Bruce Cottage, Debryun and Pugh Implement Shop, Randy's Café, Callanans Smoke Shop, Moellers Store, Michaels Auto Repair, Club Lido, Ruan Transportation Co., PM Park, Nichols Body Shop, Iowa Terminal Railroad, Cashway Lumber Co., Mach III Inc., Junior High School, Ruth and Jerry's Tavern, Holiday Motor Lodge, Lake Food Store, and The Ritz, just to name a few.

For 135 years, the Clear Lake Department has served the community. From the first volunteers, this Department has stood ready to serve the community. The fire fighters that serve are proud of their membership. Over the years, technology, equipment, training programs, and volunteer dedication has allowed the Clear Lake Fire Department to continue to grow.

In 1989, the Department expanded its services when 13 members were certified as Emergency Medical Technicians. They would respond to medical calls and prepare patients for possible ambulance transport to medical facilities. A first-responder program was added a few years later.

Other new protection services added recently were Hazardous Materials Operations-Level Certification and ice rescue operations. Fire education programs at the Fire Museum and with the Clear Lake public schools have been designed to make residents aware of many of the hazards in our community.

The Fire Department made a major expansion in January, 2006 when two ambulances and 13 Paramedic and EMT personnel joined to provide 24-hour medical services and ambulance transport for the City. They are the first paid members of the department and will operate directly with the 30 volunteer firefighters. They are participating in fire training and will assist at fire scenes. Likewise, qualified firefighters will perform as backup to the ambulance squad.

Unfortunately, residences, businesses, and corporations have been affected by fire, medical emergencies, and devastation over the years. Fire is unforgiving and shows no remorse. It can affect everyone in a community in a very short period of time. That is why your continued support of our organization is needed. New recruits are being accepted and trained.

The Fire Museum, located across from the Fire Station, is open on weekends 1:00PM to 4:00PM from Memorial Day to Labor Day for you to learn more about our organization, equipment, and training programs, and give you a general understanding of the department's responsibilities.

How we are dispatched

Have you ever wondered what happens when you need the fire department and you call 911. Here is the sequence of what happens in Clear Lake:

1. The 911 calls come into the dispatch desk at Clear Lake Police headquarters. Radio and telephone messages are recorded for security and safety purposes.

2. The dispatcher will collect pertinent information based on the nature of the call. Once the dispatcher has all the information available they send a voice page to the fire department. This page should include the location of the emergency, who is needed to respond and the nature of the call. Clear Lake Fire Department also utilizes a cell phone based paging system called Active911 that allows the same information to be sent to personnel's cell phones.

3. The voice page comes across pagers that are carried by each member of the department.

4. Firefighters who are needed respond to the fire station to suit up in their protective turnout gear. A police car starts toward the scene. Ambulance staff, on duty at the station, board the ambulance and drive to the incident scene. They radio to the dispatcher that they are “en route” and when they arrive they will let the dispatcher know they are “on scene”.

5. Depending upon the emergency, firefighters board the appropriate vehicles, radio the dispatcher, and proceed to the scene.

6. Upon arrival, the ambulance crew and police will radio any pertinent information to the dispatcher, who will report to the firefighters in route. The ambulance squad stays on the scene, unless called away, to assist and to perform medical checks on the firefighters and any victims. Police officers secure the scene and surrounding traffic conditions.

7. Firefighters, upon arrival, report to the dispatcher. The officer in the lead vehicle becomes Incident Commander. Other officers report to that person throughout the incident.

8. Every 20 minutes, the dispatcher will radio to the Incident Commander for a PAR-Check, an update of progress, number of firefighters on scene, and expected termination time of the incident.

9. When a unit is no longer needed at the scene, its members board the vehicle, report to the dispatcher, return to the station and radio their arrival. They also report when their vehicle has been returned to condition for another call, including refilling of tanks, air bottles, and fuels. Usually, the last unit home is that of the Incident Commander who radios the “Incident Terminated” report.

10. Reports, using the dispatcher’s reports, are generated on all vehicles, participating members, and persons involved in the incident for local and state agencies and the media.