Area fire chiefs honored for life-saving efforts

By: Brittany Slaughter

AMHERST, Wis. (WAOW)-- Amherst Fire Chief Victor Voss and Assistant Fire Chief Brian Swan were honored by Assemblywoman Katrina Shankland (D-71st District) in Madison on Tuesday.

"Brian Swan contacted me because he was very concerned that somebody had driven into a fire truck in nearby Waupaca. Instead of complaining or venting, he was like, let's change the law," Shankland said.

Voss and Swan were given the Hometown Hero award for spearheading a new law to protect roadway workers.

"It is so rare for people to not only voice a concern but to make a change to actually use their voice to change Wisconsin law and those two did it," Shankland said.

First responders said they are trying to prevent future incidents. 

"We don't need to add to the tragedy or to the work that we've got on scene by having somebody else cause another crash," Swan said.

Swan said receiving the award was touching. The fire chiefs received support and praise in Madison for their efforts.

"We got standing ovations, both of us, and I got kind of teary eyed about it because it is that special," Swan said.

Shankland encouraged all Wisconsinites to contact their lawmakers when they want to see change.

"If you have an idea and you are truly motivated to make a positive change, you can do so. Victor and Brian are great examples of that," Shankland said. 

Recently there have been multiple cases of first responders injured on the side of the road. In Milwaukee, two fire fighters were hit while shoveling snow. In Mineral Point, two firemen died when a vehicle hit their fire truck and caught on fire. 

According to Wisconsin State Patrol, in Wisconsin over the past two years there have been 306 people injured in crashes involving an emergency vehicle.

In 2020, one person died, while another 99 were injured, and there were 480 crashes. In 2021 there were two fatal injuries, 119 people hurt, and 559 total crashes.