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Letter: What is required of a firefighter?

In response to Beth Waller’s letter last week, we appreciate the interest and it couldn’t have been timed better.

The Park Rapids Fire Department is operated on a budget from the city and its 10 townships under the direction of the city council. We meet formally twice per month. The first Wednesday is the business meeting, where all of the planning, finance and past business is discussed. The third Wednesday is scheduled training on items of interest or concern.

These may include tactics and techniques on interior attack, engine placement and operation, wild land firefighting, ice water rescue, incident command, inter operations with other resources (law enforcement, ambulance, first response, posse, air flight or other fire departments) etc.

New fire-fighters are required to be level one certified within 12 months which is the probationary period.

Currently all of our firefighters are both level one and two certified. Level one certification requires 72 hours of training by state certified instructors, a structural live burn interior attack, practical skills test, and written test. This is a very rigorous schedule in a 12-month period. Level two requires additional classroom and a written skills test. All our firefighters are required to participate in at least 75 percent of all meetings and calls.

We also volunteer our time and service to community events such as Main street events, Logging Days, fishing derby, snowmobile race, etc. We attend several parades throughout the summer months. We participate with the schools and daycare during fire prevention visiting classrooms and bringing the younger children to the station for tours.

There is compensation for our firefighters as we are actually referred to as paid on call. Currently members of our department receive $11.83 per hour with a stipend for ranking officers. We also have a retirement called Minnesota Firefighters Relief Association which any fire department providing reporting to the National Fire Incident Reporting System is eligible.

We have 26 members and are currently seeking replacements for Jeff Green (30 years) and Larry Kruft (27 years). In February Randy McFarren (35 years) and Tim Little (24 years) retired. They will all be greatly missed. Applications are available at city hall and are open until Friday, Feb. 28. Anyone seeking additional information is welcome to contact me or any of our members.

We will be attending and participating in many events this year so we hope to see as many of you as possible. On June 14 we will be hosting our open house and celebrating 125 years of service beginning Jan. 26, 1889.

We will have more activities and fun for all ages. Hope to see you there.

Donn Hoffman

Park Rapids Fire Chief