Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Fire department shares bonfire safety tips


Fall weather is slowly creeping in on Whitewater and that means it’s peak bonfire season. We all love enjoying the outdoors with our friends and family eating s’mores but safety is always the first priority. Assistant Chief Joe Uselding and Lieutenant Jacob Maas of the Whitewater Fire Department were interviewed on their basic safety tips on how to have a bonfire safely.

“The first thing I would do is check the Department of Natural Resources’ website. Check to see if there are any fire dangers. We are experiencing weird climate changes right now with fluctuations in dry and wet conditions. If it is really dry, it’s not a good idea to have a fire,” says Asst. Chief Joe Uselding. 

This is because the air quality is due to change as rapidly as the weather has, with increasingly dry air, the sparks of a fire could spread and harm not only the natural environment, but also the people involved. 

“Have a plan. Keep fires away from buildings, have a non-flammable container to keep the fire in, and have an extinguisher ready. Keep water or a hose nearby to extinguish the fire if it gets out of hand,” adds Lt. Jacob Maas. Having a plan for any situation with fire has been something that we all learned in grade school, make sure to keep the same game plan and headspace when throwing a bonfire. 

“Also, watch for wind conditions. If there’s heavy wind, it’s not safe to have a fire. Hot embers can be carried far distances and can start wildfires. Never use accelerants on a fire. Using accelerants can also cause hot embers to travel and start unintentional fires. It’s best practice to never leave a fire unattended and always fully extinguish with water before heading inside for the night,” the officers shared.

If you are finding that the fire is unable to be put out by your own efforts, call 9-1-1, for an emergency.  

The Whitewater Fire Department began in 1871 and serves the Whitewater area. Every year, the fire department fundraising team hosts a pancake breakfast to fundraise for the fire department. 

“We are able to get needed equipment, keep taxpayer costs lower, and connect with the community through the event. It’s a great opportunity to support the fire department and the community,” says Uselding and Maas. The annual pancake breakfast is open to the public, as a way of raising money and awareness for the fire department protecting the community. 

“I came from a line of firefighters and it was something I was always around and grew up with. I’ve lived here for 20 years and I see and help a lot of the same faces. The most important part to me is giving back to the community,” says Uselding. 

Increasing the community by having members of the community volunteer and help would increase their staff, making helping others easier. 

“We’re always looking for members. We offer paid on-call positions and will train you. It’s a great group and we’d love for you to join. Contact us on our website for more information,” said Maas. 

Each individual on staff is there to give back to the community. Stay safe this semester, have fun, and make sure to check the local air quality and weather when throwing a bonfire. 

For more information on the department, or to join their team, visit their website: and for the air information visit:

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