Leland Township Fire Department History

Department History


The Leland Volunteer Fire Department was officially organized in 1933.  It became a Michigan non-profit corporation in 1961.  Throughout its existence, it has served the public in Leland, the Township of Leland and the surrounding area in the protection of life, health and property. 

The Leland fire station is owned by the LVFD.   It was built in 1962 with funds raised from contributions and since 1988 has been leased to the Township for $1 per year.  The fire station in Lake Leelanau was funded by tax revenue and is the property of the Township.

In 1988 the LVFD sold the existing equipment to the Township for $10 and at the same time granted the $1 per year lease of the Leland fire station.  At this point the responsibility for fire and rescue became the responsibility of the newly formed Leland Township Fire and Rescue Department.  To this day the two organizations continue to exist.

The LVFD exists as a non-profit foundation with the mission of supporting the volunteers of the Leland Township Fire and Rescue Department.  With the limited funds it has available from a small endowment, contributions and sale of fire marks, it provides uniforms and other clothing, awards, refreshments and an Annual Dinner for the fire and rescue volunteers.  Until recently the LVFD also provided payment for training.  The Township now provides funds for training.

The LVFD currently is headed by seven Board members and four officers who conduct the activities of the foundation.

The foundation faces the continuing challenge of procuring funds to encourage enrollment of volunteers and to support their efforts.  In the past decade, it has experienced a deficit in every year with one exception.  The LVFD is looking for ways to increase donations and to establish other fund raising efforts in addition to the sale of fire marks.



Leland Township Fire and Rescue was formed in 1988 as the Township assumed full responsibility for fire and rescue in the Township.  Leland Volunteer Fire Department (LVFD) sold its equipment to the Township for $10 and leased the Leland fire station for $1 per year.  The Township owns the Lake Leelanau Fire Station.

Volunteers continue to play an essential roll for fire protection and Emergency Medical Technician services.  Recently, two full time EMTs, cross trained as firemen, were hired to provide coverage for weekday EMT coverage.  These employees also conduct equipment maintenance and servicing.  Weekends and nights are covered by well trained volunteers.

Paramedic service which is required for more serious medical conditions requiring IVs or drug administration is contracted from outside sources.

While there have been only a relatively few house fires in the Township and a few in the surrounding areas requiring Leland’s assistance, there are hundreds of calls for rescue and fire services.  Auto accidents, downed power lines, grass fires and other emergencies dictate continued vigilance and response by Leland Fire and Rescue.

Ongoing State and Federal regulations have increased the amount of training and paperwork required to properly conduct the affairs of the department.

Leland Fire and Rescue has its own Board members and officers as well as volunteer EMTs and firemen.

As recently as five years ago, the Leland Township Fire Department (LTFD) was still an all-volunteer service that grew from the 1988 merger of the Leland Volunteer Fire Department in Leland, and Leland Township Fire Department which was based in Lake Leelanau.  It was staffed by a corps of dedicated, heroic citizens whose efforts over the years are very greatly appreciated.  These hard-working, committed individuals provided a service to their fellow taxpayers without pay.  But they could no longer staff today’s professional fire & rescue departments.

Around 2002 the number of EMS personnel had dwindled so low that Leland had to contract with Suttons Bay Bingham Fire and Rescue for backup coverage of EMS calls within the township. The number of available daytime responders was so limited that help was needed to cover those calls.

In 2006 Leland Township Fire and Rescue placed a stake in the ground to improve the department and address the limited ability to respond to EMS calls. At this time the department made the decision to move from a completely part-paid department to a staffed station during the daytime, weekdays. In the very early stages the staffing was provided by individuals that would volunteer to be at the station in order to respond promptly to dispatched emergencies. As the program developed the department hired its first full-time employees. As the program began coverage was provided Monday through Friday 7am to 7pm at the station and on the off hours by two individuals on-call.

The program has continued to expand and the hours of staffing have increased.  Since 2006 Leland Township Fire and Rescue has provided 24 hour 7 day a week. Members have certifications of both FF-1/2 and EMT-B, and several have higher levels of certification in fire and rescue services.  Two members are always immediately available for initial response to any fire or rescue call.  Additional members are called to assist as needed. This schedule maximizes the available personnel resources for the times of day when calls are most common.  ALS (i.e. paramedic) support is provided by Northflight of Munson Healthcare, with direct scene response by helicopter if needed.  Otherwise, “ground intercept” is performed en route to the hospital, with a paramedic joining on board the LTFD ambulance to perform additional interventions if needed. In 2009 the addition of an on-call fire fighter was added during the busy summer months to provide proper and safe staffing for township emergencies.

In November of 2007 Leland Township Fire and Rescue saw its next major change. Prior to this period LTFD had two Chiefs and separate command structures for each of the two fire stations as well as two NFIR numbers. Early in 2007 the Township Board and Fire Board realized that the department had fallen behind in compliance and the structure and operations of the department needed to change. Several restructuring workshops were held to look at current laws and standards as well as if the department met these standards. It was determined that a dramatic change was need. Additionally the transition from a volunteer or part-paid department to a combination department dictated a change in operations. Therefore in November of that year the Township removed the existing command structure and began making the necessary changes to combine each station into a single department under one NFIR number and organizational structure.  Michael Fandel was appointed Acting Chief to facilitate the need reorganization and restructuring.  A single command structure was established and efforts continue to strengthen the department, improve the level of service, response times as well as the development of increased training and necessary policies and procedures.

Today’s fire & rescue personnel, regardless of the size of their departments, are required to be certified by national and state organizations.  These certifications represent abilities that they’ve learned through formal education and the training of technical skills that must be continuously tested.  For example, a basic-level fire fighter (FF-1/2) attends 260 hours of school, and spends almost 90 hours yearly to maintain their certification.  On the rescue side, a basic Emergency Medical Technician (EMT-B) attends over 270 hours of initial training.  They must also perform nearly 90 hours per year of continuing education and skills practice to keep their licensure and to participate in the Northwest Regional Medical Control (NWRMC) system (i.e., Munson Medical Center).  The LTFD must hire and pay these professionals in order to have truly qualified staff to attend us in our moments of greatest need.

The knowledge and expertise accompanying the various Fire Fighter certification levels has increased over the years, including being able to safely extricate trapped victims, contain and clear hazardous materials, and to find and contain fires more rapidly than ever before.  The evolution of rescue, now referred to as Emergency Medical Services (EMS) has been even more rapid.  These developments have changed the capability of the rescue service from performing first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and transportation, to an extension of the practice of medicine.  Over the past few years, the scope of practice of basic EMT’s has evolved to include skills that previously were only associated with higher level providers, such as paramedics.  Today’s EMT-B’s are better trained to recognize and treat many emergency conditions than most physicians.  They can deliver electrical shocks to restart stopped hearts using automatic external defibrillator (AED) devices.  They can place artificial airway devices and breathe for victims that have stopped breathing.  They carry and can administer medications to persons having heart problems, allergic reactions, asthma attacks and diabetic crises.  They are able to treat trauma victims with special immobilization techniques to prevent further injury while moving and transporting.  Advanced EMT’s, such as paramedics, add advanced life support (ALS) skills such as intravenous fluid replacement, additional medications, and other more sophisticated medical interventions.

Having qualified staff is essential, but personnel also need to be available to respond quickly and efficiently.  An open fire doubles in size every 30 seconds, so it’s critical to contain a blaze as soon as possible to prevent further damage or spread.  Victims whose hearts have stopped need to have CPR started within 4 to 6 minutes to prevent brain damage, and the earlier a defibrillator shock can be delivered, the more likely it is to be successful at restarting the heart.  Trauma victim’s survival depends on their ability to get to surgery within the first hour.  Stroke victims can only receive beneficial “clot-busting” medications within the first 3 hours of symptoms to have any chance of improvement.

Personnel have many additional daily duties beyond responding to fire and rescue calls and maintaining their certifications.  Staff have significant reporting requirements, and must spend time devoted to completing state and local agency documents.  Essential duties include checklists that are designed to maintain the preparedness of the equipment.  Hoses, ladders, pumps, saws, lights, generators, oxygen tanks, breathing apparatus, and specialized tools such as thermal imaging devices need to be cleaned and checked.  The engines and ambulances need to be run and maintained, cleaned and restocked.  Other duties include preplanning for fire and rescue scenes in the community, ordering supplies, and facility housekeeping and maintenance.  Public education events, such as assisting in life support classes and fire drills are other essential duties.

With a professional staff the Department has seen great improvements in several areas.  “Dropped” calls, meaning that no one in the township was able to respond, and other local fire departments were asked to come, have been eliminated.  Having qualified, trained and available staff has reduced the need for paramedic assistance to an average of twice a month.  Rapid response to structure and field fires has helped minimize costly damage and prevent potentially disastrous spread.  For the first time, all equipment and supplies have been catalogued, allowing accurate planning for maintenance and replacement.

As we look ahead to the future needs of the Township, the LTFD and its Fire Board have many projects in the works.  Comprehensive written policies and procedures are being developed.  Staff have been preparing and submitting federal grant applications (e.g., funding of a replacement fire engine).  The LTFD is preparing for an upcoming ISO rating review (a ranking of fire preparedness) that is anticipated to be able reduce many homeowner’s insurance premiums.  A township committee is being formed to plan for the future location(s) and structural needs of the LTFD station(s).