Hall of Fame Inductees September 10th 2004 – Superior, WI

Ronald Mayer

City of Franklin Fire Department

On the evening of February 18, 2002, the Franklin Fire Department was dispatched to a fire at the Whitnall View Motel on Lovers Lane Road.  Battalion Chief Ronald Mayer was the first to arrive at the motel.  Seeing heavy smoke coming out of one of the rooms and crowd gathering in front of the one story building, BC Mayer called for additional fire units.  He also saw a man crawling out of the room.  This man, the motel owner, had been trying to get inside the room to find the man that was believed to still be inside.  Doing his best to get to where the man was believed to be, he could not quite get there.  The blistering heat and deadly black smoke forced him out of every attempt.

Knowing that the first arriving engine company was still minutes away and that a few of the bystanders were making plans to try another rescue attempt, BC Mayer decided to try to get to the imperiled man himself.  Crawling along the floor to the far side of the hot, smoke filled room, BC Mayer was able to get to the side of a bed where he found a 53-year-old man, lying unconscious on the floor.  

Stopping momentarily to radio in the situation, BC Mayer then dragged the man out of the building to the safety of the cold outside air.  Once outside he got him covered with a blanket and found that he was barely breathing.  Staying with the man, BC Mayer directed the firefighting operations from that location until paramedics arrived to take over his care.

Not only did the heroic actions of Battalion Chief Ronald Mayer save the life of the man, who suffered from smoke inhalation and received second and third degree burns over 28% of his body, but he most likely saved some well meaning by-standers from injury or death by preventing them from entering the burning room as well.

Wendell Rice

Platteville Fire Department

“Man, here’s a guy who has 40 years of service on the department, he must not be very active any more.”  These were the thoughts of David Izzard of the Platteville Volunteer Fire Department, when he had first met Wendell Rice.  And this was over ten years ago.

Currently, with over fifty years of volunteer service with the Platteville Volunteer Fire Department, Wendell Rice continues to be one of the most active firefighter in his community.  In just the past five years alone, Wendell has continually been one of the top five active members from the department, having responded to 95% of their fire calls and attending 99% of the department’s training sessions and meetings.

His selfless dedication has been an inspiration to both those who have been fortunate enough to serve with him, as well as to all of those whom he has been called upon to serve.

Wendell Rice’s activities with the department and his community have not been limited to fighting fires.  Wendell Rice has spent 42 years as a Grant County Special Deputy, and was a 19 year member of the Platteville Police Department.  He assisted in establishing their EMS program, participates in many fire prevention programs, assists raising funds to operate the department, volunteers for the Chamber of Commerce, and has provided maintenance for the town’s fire equipment for many years, especially for his favorite, “Old #3,” a 1976 Ford pumper which still shines as brightly today as it did the day it first backed into the station.

As written by Dorothy Genthe, Platteville City Council President:

“Wendell Rice is another name for the term, dedication.  Wendell has dedicated fifty years of service to our Volunteer Fire Department…

He sets an example for his fellow firemen, always going the extra mile in his own quiet way to do the duties for our volunteer service.

Wendell is an excellent mentor, a conscientious trainer and a leader par excellence.  One wonders what his next fifty years will produce fro our fire department …”

Michael Woodzicka & Patrick Kearney

Appleton Fire Department

In the early morning hours of May 4, 2002, the Appleton Fire Department was dispatched to a house fire on Badger Avenue.  Several 911 calls were being made and it was reported that two people might still be inside the burning building.  Engine 325 with Lieutenant Michael Woodzicka and his crew arrived to find fire engulfing the front porch and working its way into the rest of the house.  Although their concerns for the missing occupants were paramount, it was just as important to stop the spread of the growing fire.  Pulling a hose line from their engine, Lt. Woodzicka and his crew first knocked down some of the fire in the front porch and then started searching the first floor while they looked to find a stairway to the second floor, as this was the most likely place for the victims to be.

Meanwhile, Truck 341 arrived and was assigned to assist in the search for the missing people.  Firefighter Patrick Kearney of Truck 341 was now feeling his way up the stairs, through thick black smoke, to the second floor.  As he reached a landing in the stairwell, he heard a call for assistance from Lt. Woodzicka who had found a door on the second floor that was being blocked shut from something on the inside.  Together they were able to push the door open and get inside the room.  There, lying unconscious, was twenty-year-old Stephanie Lindsley.  Lt. Woodzicka and Firefighter Kearney carried her downstairs and brought her outside where it was discovered she was barely breathing.  Gold Cross Ambulance paramedics took over her care and brought her to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital where she began her recovery.

Work still needed to be done as one person was not yet accounted for.  Fire crews continued their search efforts looking for the missing man.  Fortunately, he had been able to get out of the burning home himself and was safe outside where he was being attended to by police officers.

Through their unrelenting and focused efforts, Lt. Woodzicka and Firefighter Kearney were able to rescue Stephanie Lindsley from her smoke filled home and since then she has been able to enjoy a full recovery from the ordeal that nearly took her life.

Hero Stories