Matt Tranel

Maquoketa residents are now guaranteed emergency rescue service.

Maquoketa City Council amended a city ordinance that establishes a fire department to also include rescue and emergency medical services.

As an official city entity, the rescue squad will be covered by the city’s workmen’s compensation and hospitalization insurance.

The change eliminates perceived gray area in the city’s code of ordinances, according to Maquoketa Fire Chief Matt Tranel.

The previous ordinance required the city to provide fire protection for its residents. However, it did not require rescue services.

The Maquoketa Rescue Squad has 18 positions; 17 are filled. To join, members must be Maquoketa firefighters for at least five years.

Squad members report to incidents with the fire department as well as to motor vehicle accidents and other rescue situations.

Before the ordinance change, firefighters were paid for each fire call they responded to. Rescue squad members were not.

The rescue squad does not rely on tax dollars, Tranel said. The squad operates on public donations acquired during a fall mailing campaign every year. It also receives money from the non-profit Maquoketa Firefighters Association, which raises money via the annual pancake breakfast, Fire Ball and other fundraisers. The Association helps to pay for items that aren’t in the fire department or rescue squad’s budget.

However, if the squad and Association donations decrease to the point where there is no funding for squad needs, “the city would take over the burden,” Tranel said in April.

Firefighters and rescue squad members are insured by the city when performing fire duties, so the city is not incurring any additional liability, according to the city manager.

Association attorney Skylar Limkemann told the council in April that many other cities in Iowa are amending their ordinances to include rescue squads. He said the merger would open doors to many grant opportunities, which would aid funding.