City of Red Wing

Many other communities, sizable to Red Wing, have a volunteer Fire Department. Why does Red Wing have a full-time one?

According to national standards, the Red Wing Fire Department is classified as a combination fire department. It is staffed with a combination of full-time and Paid-on-Call personnel. Response time is critical for all types of emergency responses. Combination staffing ensures an immediate response to emergency incidents, 24 hours per day, 7days per week, 365 days per year, not possible with on-call personnel alone.  

The Red Wing Fire Department provides fire protection services within a response area of approximately 65 square miles including the City of Red Wing, the Prairie Island Indian Community, Wacouta Township, and Diamond Bluff, Wisconsin. Additionally, the Red Wing Fire Department provides Advanced Life Support/Paramedic ambulance services for these areas plus neighboring townships in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The ambulance response area is approximately 260 square miles, roughly the equivalent of the size of Austin, Texas. 

All full-time personnel are cross trained and perform fire and emergency medical functions daily. Fees for services fund the ambulance operations, its ongoing expenses and over 50 percent of all full-time personnel expenses.  

Full-time personnel are responsible for the department’s day to day operations and core services. In addition to performing the fire suppression activities one would expect, the Red Wing Fire Department performs numerous additional fire related functions including: fire investigation, fire inspections, fire code enforcement and interpretation, plan review, pre-fire planning, public education, and auto extrication. The unique character of the Red Wing community also requires the Red Wing Fire Department to respond to rope and ice rescue incidents, marina and boat fires, hazardous materials incidents and radiological emergencies to name a few.  

Paid-on-Call firefighters respond to structure fires, search and rescue calls, and other labor intensive incidents. They are paged simultaneously with full-time personnel for structure fires and respond to provide the supplemental staffing required to ensure critical tasks and operations can be performed efficiently and safely.  

Through the combined operations of full-time and paid-on-call firefighters, the Red Wing Fire Department is able to provide an immediate response to daily emergency incidents, while maintaining the ability to provide a rapid deployment of supplemental personnel for large scale, specialized or otherwise labor intensive incidents.  

In 2008 the Red Wing Fire Department underwent a Fire Study and Master Planning process. The study recommends that the department continue to operate as a combination fire department. It also recommended adding full-time personnel to adequately address safety and operational needs for initial incident response.