• Firefighting efforts in Washington County receive a vital upgrade in its arsenal

  • The Washington County Sheriff’s, Stillwater Police, Oak Park Heights Police, Bayport Police, Oak Park Heights Fire, and the Stillwater Fire departments in Washington County, MN are now equipped with 15 unique Fire Suppression Tools (FST), donated by St. John’s Lodge Masonic Lodge #1 of Stillwater, MN. With the help from grants provided through the Minnesota Masonic Charities and Grand Lodge of Minnesota, this is only the first installment of St. John’s Masonic Lodge’s initiative to strategically equip as many Washington County departments as they can.

    The FST’s, which cost approximately $1,000.00 each, are bright orange, compact devices that can fit in the trunk of a squad car or a first responder vehicle. These units can suppress a rolling fire and dramatically reduce fire and water damage in enclosures like houses, garages, stores, or sheds. To activate the FST, a trained officer simply pulls two pins before tossing it into the structure. The FST is equipped with an eight-second timer which, once it counts down, releases environmentally safe nontoxic aerosols into the air. These aerosols, which are safe for humans and pets, will knock down a contained fire up to approximately 5,300 square cubic feet (about the size of a two-car garage), and more importantly, decrease the temperature of the fire by about 1,000 degrees in less than a minute.

    “It’s exciting to know that Washington County has additional fire suppression tools to help our community if ever needed and are grateful for the efforts of St. John’s Masonic Lodge,” said Washington County Sheriff Dan Starry. “More often than not, we arrive on the scene of fire calls before fire departments. These FST’s, with the proper training and understanding on when and how to deploy them, are most certainly an asset we can use in saving lives.”

    The Freemasons chose to give the devices to law enforcement since often, they are first on the scene of a fire, especially considering some of the more rural areas of Washington County. “We hope that this tool is something they don’t have to use,” said St. John’s Masonic Lodge #1 representative Matthew Stepaniak, “but we know that isn’t the case so hopefully this will be one more thing they can use to keep our neighbors safe here in Washington County.” The donations of the FSTs are a big part of what the Masons do and is a statewide effort that began in 2023. “The members of the St. John’s Masonic Lodge #1 have been a part of the community for over 170 years,’’ Stepaniak said. “We are committed to ensuring that we make our community a better and safer place now, and in the future.”

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