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Sad Goodbye to Grand Chute Fire Prevention Specialist & Sprinkler Advocate

Jesse Pickett was a 29-year-old firefighter with the Grand Chute Fire Department who took great pride in his role as a fire prevention specialist and public information officer. He was well known throughout the state of Wisconsin for his efforts educating the public about the dangers of fire and, in particular, about the importance of fire sprinklers.

On December 8th, Pickett’s life was taken in a crash with a semitrailer truck on his way back home from a family gathering in Wisconsin Dells. His wife, children, and the truck driver survived the crash but suffered injuries and their conditions have not yet been released.

Since joining the Grand Chute Fire Department in 2009, Pickett filled a crucial role of communicating fire safety messages with his community, both at local schools and at community events.

Pickett believed in the importance of promoting fire sprinklers and the life and property safety they provide. He often communicated successful fire sprinkler activations to local media and the Wisconsin Chapter of the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA-WI). In fact, he last reported a sprinkler save in November.

In 2010, Pickett took the lead in obtaining a fire sprinkler education grant for the Grand Chute Fire Department provided by the national nonprofit Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC). The fire department was only one of 100 fire departments nationwide to receive the grant in 2010. The $1,000 grant allowed Pickett and the fire department to conduct an educational side-by-side fire and sprinkler burn demonstration, which showed the quick response and effectiveness of fire sprinklers in controlling and extinguishing a fire in one room versus the speed of a fire turning to flashover in another room.

In the years since receiving the side-by-side grant, Pickett and the fire department continued to conduct numerous side-by-side demonstrations with assistance from NFSA-WI. See a video of Pickett conducting a side-by-side at the fire department’s Safety Day in August 2011.

Once again in 2012, Pickett obtained an HFSC grant of $1,000 for the fire department. The grant money bought advertising space with local media outlets to feature public service announcements (PSAs) that dispelled movie myths about home fire sprinklers. Pickett worked with the local Wisconsin Timber Rattlers minor league baseball team to run the PSAs on the stadium’s video screen, and also aired the PSAs before movies at the local movie theater.

After completing the 2012 HFSC stipend, Pickett was quoted as saying, “I think anytime you are able to educate the public on a subject, it is a success.” According to NFSA-WI Regional Manager Dan Gengler, the quote is a representation of the importance Pickett placed on public fire safety outreach — whether big or small.

“Jesse will surely be missed by his community, his peers in the firefighting profession, and among fire safety advocates,” adds Gengler. “We offer our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and colleagues.”

The Jesse Pickett Memorial Fund has been set up at Fox Communities Credit Union. Funds will go toward offsetting any medical expenses that are not reimbursed, future educational expenses for Pickett’s two daughters, and a fire prevention endowment fund in Pickett’s name.

Donations can be deposited at any Fox Communities Credit Union or sent via U.S. Postal Service to:

Fox Communities Credit Union
c/o Jesse Pickett Memorial Fund
3401 E Calumet St
Appleton, WI 54915

When sending a check, please state that it is for the Jesse Pickett Memorial Fund.


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2 Responses to Sad Goodbye to Grand Chute Fire Prevention Specialist & Sprinkler Advocate

  1. Brad Pickett on May 24, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    If the NFSA WI chapter is interested in follow up to this story, please contact me. This was a great piece, and I was happy to see the video demonstration featuring my brother Jesse.

    Thank you,
    Brad Pickett

    • Stacey Baker on October 25, 2016 at 6:37 pm

      I would also be interested in a follow up on this story. Jesse is remembered every year in the Town of Grand Chute, as well as the surrounding cities.

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