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City of Harlan


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Fire Department


Fire Office Location:

906 Cyclone Avenue
Harlan, IA 51537
Phone: (712)755-5354
Roger Bissen, Fire Chief



Harlan has one of the best Volunteer Fire Departments in Southwest Iowa. 

In existence since 1881, it has a long history of dedicated fire fighters and paramedics that

have minimized property damage and saved lives for many years with their heroic efforts. 

Fire Department Application

The Harlan Volunteer Fire Department received the Iowa Firefighters Association “Outstanding Department Award”; in essence the Fire Department of the Year for the State of Iowa. The department was nominated by Atlantic Fire Chief Mark McNees with this letter to the Iowa Firefighters Association.

I would like to nominate the Harlan Fire Department for Iowa Fire Department of the Year for 2015. The Harlan Fire Department is well respected, well trained and a great example of Iowa’s fire service.

The 30 member department responds to a variety of emergencies within their district, county, region, state and at the national level.  In addition to responding to fire calls, the department is a leader for Haz-Mat response in their Tri-County Haz-Mat response area. They have responded to a variety of rescue incidents ranging from ice & water rescue, grain bin rescue, vehicle extrication and extrication saw response to severe weather incidents. The department is also trained in swift water rescue and high angle rope rescue. They continue to train members and instructors alike.

While the department responds to wild land fires and natural disasters within its district, they have sent members nationwide for response to wildfires in California, Oregon and Alaska, and have had team members respond to natural disasters in Iowa and to hurricane response in New York.

The department also has one of the few honor guards in the state and has provided their service when requested for many events and firefighter visitations and funerals. Their unselfish devotion to honoring fellow firefighters does not go unnoticed, and is a touching show of respect to the departed firefighters and their families.

The Harlan Fire Department works within their community for fire prevention and education, and in support of community events.  They are a great asset not only for their local community and region, but for the state and nation as well.

The Harlan Fire Department is also an active member of the Iowa Firefighters Association. They are deserving of consideration for recognition as the IFA Fire Department of the Year, and I am pleased to make their nomination.

Chief Mark McNees,
Atlantic Fire Department













Our Team

If you are interested in becoming a member of the Harlan Fire Department contact Chief Bissen

Bissen Roger Chief
Blum  Alex Firefighter/EMT
Blum  Bruce 1st Asst. Chief
Butler Chad                 2nd Asst. Chief
Butler                                   Logan                                     Firefighter
Bylund      Chris Firefighter
Gaul Patrick Firefighter
Hazen Jacub Firefighter
Jacobsen Nate Firefighter
Jensen Zach Firefighter/Board Member
Kienast Mike Firefighter
Kroger Chad 1st Captain
Lacy Russ 1st Lieutenant/EMT
Miller Connie Firefighter/Secretary
Miller Kyle Firefighter/Board Member
Morris  Andy Firefighter
Nelsen  Madison Firefighter/Treasurer
Nelsen  Ryne 2nd Captain
Parkhurst  Jackson Firefighter
Petersen Richard 3rd Lieutenant/EMT
Schechinger Justin 2nd Lieutenant
Taylor Allison Firefighter
Weisenborn Jackie Firefighter
Yates Mary Firefighter/Paramedic



Our Story

The Harlan Fire Department held their first meeting on February 5, 1881. At that time the meetings were held annually. On February 10th of the same year different companies were formed. The Engine Co. with O. Graves as foreman, Hook and Ladder Co. with D. Chase in charge and O. Pearson in charge of the Hose Co. The first fire was June 18th, 1881 at a billiard hall on Market St., which was struck by lightning. Luckily there was only minimal damage. The first major expense of the Department was in 1885 with the purchase of a new used Silsby Steam Pumper. It was acquired from Silsby Manufacturing for a cost of $2000.00 with $500.00 down and with payments of $500.00 per year for the following 3 years at an interest rate of 6%. It is stated in the meeting minutes that this fine machine was named James M. long after one of the pioneers of Harlan. It also stated that “it took place of the windmill it giving an almost inexhaustible supply of water and that it won’t blow down as the windmill has in the past but it could blow up though they could not tell.”   

One of the biggest disasters the Department has seen was June 17th, 1901. Grant Norton lost his life in the line of duty. He was killed by a corncrib falling on him. Many things have changed over the years. We have gone from our Steam Pumper (which we still have) to modern day Fire Apparatus which is used to respond to emergencies. Today the Harlan Fire Department responds a wide variety of calls that range from fires, emergency medical, hazardous materials, motor vehicle accidents, high angle and low angle rescue, water and ice rescue, confined space and trench rescue.

The one constant that hasn’t changed over the years is the pride of the department, which is clearly demonstrated in the trophy case housed in the meeting room. On display are antique trophies dating back to 1883 to the trophies of present day. Our Department also shows great pride in owning and showing several antique fire trucks from years gone by including an 1878 Silsby Steam Pumper, a 1917 Ford Model T, a 1919 GMC, a 1928 Graham, and a 1935 Mack. 

The Harlan Fire Department now hosts a 32-member roster with challenging requirements to remain a firefighter. Our policy is that every individual must become a certified Firefighter within the first two years of joining the department. We are no longer a team of bucket brigades, but a family looking out for each other and their neighbors in time of disaster.

Thank you for your support!  Roger Bissen, Fire Chief