Orient and Polo firefighters
get hands-on experience

Posted April 16, 2013 at 4:51 pm

JoAnn Schaefers

Saturday, April 6, a group from the North Dakota Fire Academy came to Orient and taught classes to the Orient and Polo fire fighters on structure fires. The school was hosted by the Orient Fire Department, according to Larry Wangsness, fire chief. Between the two fire departments, 22 fire fighters attended the classes on Saturday. On Sunday, 24 fire fighters had a chance to put their knowledge to work. The fire departments came to the Alvin and Lucille Anglin farm house, a couple of miles northwest of Polo, which has been empty since late 2005. They also burned the rural Park Townhip School located 22 miles north of miller on hwy 45.

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Bub & Lucille Anglin Farm house

The instructors lit the house on fire six or seven times, and each time a different group of fire fighters would go in the house and extinguish the fire, after which the instructors explained different procedures. When the final individual group instructions were completed, the house was lit on fire and allowed to burn to the ground. 

Fire fighters from the two departments kept close watch on the house while it burned, due to all the dry grass surrounding the farm buildings.  The firefighters who participated thought the “controlled burn class” was a beneficial day, which they hope they never have to put to use.

The Anglin home was built by Carl (Sophie) Miessner when he came from Germany and homesteaded north of Polo in 1887. The family lived there until 1924 when they moved to Orient. Their son, Ewald and Emma (Bellin) Miessner lived on the farm after their marriage in 1924 while he worked in the AAA office in Miller. They moved to Rapid City in 1942 with their two children, Avis and Mervin.  Ben Bode and John Faust lived on the farm before Alvin and Lucille (Wernsmann) Anglin moved onto the Ewald Miessner farm in 1951, two years after they were married in Polo. 

The Anglin’s daughter, Barb Kolda remembers growing up on the farm, which meant hard work with all the chores and big gardens, typical for all farmer families in those years. The Anglins raised eight children, most of whom attended all 12 years in the Polo schools. Kolda recalls, “Children were not the only thing they raised. At one time or the other we also had chickens, pigs, stock cows and dairy cows, with the whole family helping out with the chores. But this wasn’t any different than any other family back then.  When the kids weren’t doing chores, we were busy going to the neighbors to play. Usually we would go over to Jack and JoAnn Schaefers or Benny and Dena Haneke farms, or ride our bikes to the Polo Store in the afternoon.”

As one of the early houses built in Polo burned Sunday, a lot of memories came to mind for Kolda. “Like when our oldest sister Lois brought her first boyfriend home for everyone to meet, down to our youngest sister JoAnn being a potential track star for Polo High before her death at age 15. Memories are a wonderful gift we are grateful to have from when we lived there. Wonderful memories that will live on forever in your heart and head, and not just in the old house.” (The other Anglin siblings are Eileen, Marion, Larry, Janet and Ed).

Jack Schaefers recalls memories of neighboring back and forth with the Miessners, as he was close to their son Mervin’s age, as well as the years farming back and forth with “Bub” Anglin. JoAnn Schaefers has memories of getting water for baby formula from the Anglins until 1962, when they dug the deep flow artesian well that was not salty water like the shallow artesian well.

She added, “With the house gone, we will gradually adjust to looking out our kitchen window to determine the weather according to how we ‘can or cannot see Bub and Lucille’s’ in the rain, fog, snow/blizzard, or sunshine.” 

So it is when on lives off the country roads and open prairie where you can or used to be able to look for miles and see the neighbors’ farms by day or their lights by night. And the miles between neighbors was determined by turning at the corner by a grove of trees or a farm with a special landmark home, barn or building.

Along with the “century-old” house, a mile east of it stands a 100+ year old tree on the road 1 1/2 miles north of Polo. The tree was a landmark for Polo’s early settlers, August Schaefers and Conrad Schlechter families, to go back and forth by horse and buggy or sleigh depending on the season. 

Another springtime for the landmark tree means we are watching in anticipation to see which of the branches will spring forth with leaves in 2013. Like the old houses that have unlimited stories that can be told, so too, could many old trees that grace the homes and farms in our communities, and have pages of history stored in their trunks.  

The weekend of April 6 and 7 provided a great learning experience for the Orient and Polo volunteer fire departments, with 25 volunteer firefighters in attendance. The Fire Academy of North Dakota presented classes on fire behavior, fire classifications, extinguishers, ladders, ventilation and related topics during classroom and hands-on sessions throughout the weekend.

Fire Academy ND arrived with two members that are attending Fire College at Northland Tech in East Grand Forks, Minn., along with Assistant Chief Jared Gregor and Chief Darrell Graf as instructors.

A FEMA grant was secured by the Orient Fire Department to make this training possible.

According to Orient fire chief, Larry Wangsness, volunteer fire departments can have all of the equipment they need, but without training the chance of a firefighter being injured or killed in the line of duty is extreme. Each segment of this course was taught with a “safety first” agenda. A firefighter’s job is to save lives, and the first one he needs to save is his own.

The class was primarily on structural fire attack, and in small towns most of the time when a fire strikes, it is a grass fire or other field-type fire, farm equipment or automobile fire. As a result, a house or other structure fire, because of its rarity, gets attacked by the fire department in an uneducated manner, which can be very dangerous to the fire crew.

The weekend was filled with taking the classroom training into the field and every firefighter had a chance to do proper structure fire attack, with coordinated ventilation tactics, which protects the firefighter from flashover (when a fire’s gases ignite from extreme heat and involves the entire ceiling area immediately) and back draft (when a fire is starved of oxygen and improper fire tactics allow oxygen at or below the fire, causing an explosion).

Chief Graf said, “I’ve worked with lots of groups of firefighters over the past 35 years, but this group was exceptional in their dedication to learning and to their communities.”

Firefighters who had attended other training sessions over the years stated this training was the best and most educational.

The Fire Academy ND was also in Orient in November 2011 and removed the Lutheran Church and a house for firefighter training.

Wangsness expressed appreciation to the Bub Anglin and the Dale Hargens families. “Without the use of their buildings in the live fire training, this school would not have been such a great success.”

Orient and Polo firefighters
get hands-on experience

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