Thanks, chief

January 27, 2016 - garden totes

In a summer and early tumble of 1987, Blaine Saarie was a automobile fan and an entrepreneur, a mint business owners in a Freeman village and a male in assign of Saarie Auto Body.

What a 23-year-old was not was a firefighter — and positively no glow chief. In fact, he hadn’t even given fasten a force a second thought, let alone a first.

That’s tough to trust now, deliberation what Saarie has finished for a Freeman Volunteer Fire Department for a improved partial of a past 3 decades, behaving as a arch in assign and heading a force by a horde of changes for a better. On Tuesday evening, Jan. 26, Saarie stepped aside to concede a younger arch to step in.

He calls it “passing a hat.”

Things were most opposite behind in 1987.

The spark

Saarie was there when it happened, front and core during a bad show, when a glow lighted and fast spread. His adrenaline shoved aside any good reason to get out of there. Instead, common clarity told him to stay put. Fight a glow however he could. Save his new shop.

Imagine what a business owner, 23 years immature during a time, suspicion after saying a hint from a slicing flame light a gasoline tank he and others were stealing from a automobile inside Saarie Auto Body — only 4 months aged — and fast competition opposite a gasoline’s trail and into a incendiary walls. Is it any consternation that Saarie scrambled to save his business, staying inside a blazing building longer than he should have, perplexing to extinguish a sharpening glow he had no business perplexing to extinguish, regulating a garden hose to try and do a work a full firefighting organisation wouldn’t be means to do?

He knows improved now. He knew improved then, too, though he couldn’t assistance himself. Could you?

Saarie eventually left a flourishing inferno. In fact, he’s propitious to have escaped. He pronounced after that, as he was reluctantly entrance out of a blazing building after conference a people yelling during him to get out of there, he listened a shrill boom.

“Something blew,” he told a Courier after a fire. “Probably another gas tank.”

Impact of fire, Part 1

The glow that broken Saarie Auto Body in a late-afternoon, early-evening hours of Oct. 20, 1987 was a defining impulse for a immature Freeman business owners in some-more ways than one. So harmful was a detriment that it had a appetite to do in Saarie and his business aspirations altogether. All he had ever wanted was to possess his possess physique shop.

“What we wanted to do all my life is blazing up,” Saarie pronounced on that memorable tumble dusk roughly 30 years ago, as he grimly watched firefighters try to enclose a abandon that would eventually spin his building into a 100 percent loss.

Saarie was underinsured; he had borrowed $26,000 to start a business and had insured a building for that really volume — zero more. “Young and dumb,” he says.

While word did cover a detriment of a 3 vehicles inside a emporium that fell plant to a fire, other casualties saw no china backing — not a annals and papers that were mislaid and positively not a collection that melted away, some of them Saarie had owned given he was a child.

Yet Saarie vowed to rebuild, interjection mostly to a immeasurable support he perceived from a business community, a kind and understanding landowner during what was afterwards First National Bank and a munificence of Tote, Inc., a trucking association afterwards located on Juniper Street that offering Saarie a use of a space as he began putting together a pieces of a rebuild.

“The support of Freeman was unbelievable,” Saarie says today. “That is since we rebuilt — since of a support of a community. It positively wasn’t that we had a money.”

Saarie Auto Body reopened in a mint building on a same plcae in 1989 and he began building his business behind adult — with most success. The automobile physique emporium grew and developed in a years and decades to come though anything tighten to a critical reversal Saarie had faced in 1987. Car sales and automobile tools were combined to a line of services, and then, later, discontinued. Today, Saarie Auto Body stays a critical partial of a Freeman business village and a tie along a North County Road.

A framed reprint of a Courier’s coverage of a 1987 glow hangs on a wall of a lobby.

Impact of fire, Part 2

That Saarie rebuilt and polished his business in a years and decades after a glow is a honeyed ultimate outcome innate from a bad situation. But a glow resulted in a second defining impulse for Saarie that finished adult being roughly as critical as his preference to reconstruct Saarie Auto Body.

The glow that broken his business led to his preference to turn a firefighter.

“Without a doubt, 100 percent,” Saarie pronounced in an speak with a Courier final week — 8 days before he would step down as chief. “Before a fire, we hadn’t even given that a thought.”

Saarie remembers revelation then-chief Orville Huber that he wanted to join a force since of a efforts he saw from a firefighters that Oct dusk of 1987 — how they left their jobs and their homes, how they used their appetite and their apparatus to conflict a prohibited fire, how they managed to pierce it underneath control and, ultimately, save a few things from a inferno.

Yes, it was a disaster, “but though them, we would have mislaid more,” Saarie says.

Saarie assimilated a force in 1991, eventually became an partner arch and took over as a male in assign of a dialect in 1997.

He remembers his really initial call as a firefighter — a “horrific accident” that enclosed mixed fatalities.

“Without a doubt, that was a test,” Saarie says. “But all went as good as could be expected. The glow dialect did a good job. The ambulance organisation did a good job, as always. But it was a really tough situation. we remember articulate to a people who were on a scene. we felt like we had a purpose.”

The instinct to wish to do good for people in perplexing times is a absolute force and something that was fast embraced by Saarie.

“We wish to assistance people — that’s since we stayed on as prolonged as we did,” he says. “I wish to assistance since we got assistance when we indispensable it.”

Being a glow chief

The ways in that Saarie has finished an impact as arch are many. It is unfit to come adult with a minute and extensive list. But here are a few.

One of a initial things Saarie did as arch was deliver pagers. The Orville Huber epoch was noted by a phone complement that alerted first-responders to calls entrance in. The home phone home would ring, a summons would sound and a dialect would conduct to a glow station, where a plcae of a glow would be created on a marker board, and off they went.

In a early 1990s, a pages were a game-changer and dovetailed with a 911 dispatch setup, also comparatively new during a time. Each firefighter and EMT would lift one, with information about a glow entrance directly to them from dispatch. Saarie remembers a complement being dear and some doubt a expense, though he believed a income a dialect had on palm should be spent for improvements, and a pager complement positively was that.

The Saarie epoch also enclosed a biggest plan ever taken on by a internal glow department: a pull for a new glow gymnasium in a early partial of a 2000s and a construction and opening on a north finish of Main Street in Sep of 2003. Saarie talks about it with an equal clarity of honour and exasperation. The plan was difficult and extensive since of all a work that had to be done, from removing a Freeman City Council on house with a plan to lifting adequate supports to make it a go.

The new glow and ambulance hire transposed a congested buliding on a south side of City Hall and was built for only over $310,000 — some-more than half of that was lifted by firefighters and EMTs. That fundraising, joined with several years-worth of meetings and discussions with city officials, was taxing.

“You can suppose how prolonged it took,” Saarie says. “There were many visits to a legislature as a organisation to denote a support. They saw how eager we were. We were out of room. We indispensable to pierce on it.”

The plan saw a outrageous boost interjection to a $124,000 state extend awarded by Bill Janklow, South Dakota’s administrator during a time. Saarie says he wrote a minute to a administrator himself — “bad penmanship” and all. And he remembers removing a call from Janklow’s bureau 3 months later.

“The lady on a other finish of a phone said, ‘Governor Janklow wants to speak to you.’ we said, ‘Yes, I’ll hold.’

“It was him, as free-spirited as ever,” Saarie continues. “One of a initial things we pronounced was, ‘Could we review it?’”

Saarie also remembers a terms of a deal; that Janklow wanted, in sell for a state grant, a sugar-free pink pie.

“I said, ‘For that kind of money, we wish two?’ That was a highlight.”

There have been others. After so many years, how could there not be?

And there is a viewpoint on what creates a good glow chief. How could there not be after so many calls?

And there is a prophesy for a future. How can there not be with a new arch entrance on board? The Courier will cover all of that when this story concludes subsequent week.

More totes ...

› tags: garden totes /