A special open house will be held at the Detroit Lakes fire station on Wednesday, June 9, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The event will be open to the public and will focus on anyone who thinks, or has thought, about being a volunteer firefighter in their own town.
“Come in, check out the equipment,” said Detroit Lakes Fire Chief Ryan Swanson. “If you have questions about … joining, what does it take to become a member, it’s just an open house.”
The volunteer-seeking events are also taking place June 9 across Becker County at fire stations in Frazee, Audubon, Lake Park, Wolf Lake, Carsonville, Elbow-Tulaby and Callaway.
Joining a local fire department has two main requirements, applicants must be 21 years old and live within four miles, or eight minutes of a local fire station. Applications will be available at the fire house during the open house and no resumes are required, Swanson said.
Detroit Lakes firefighters extinguished a construction trailer fire in the parking lot of Detroit Lakes High School. (Michael Achterling / Tribune)
“A resume says, I have experience in this and you should hire me, and here, we’re looking for (members) where a majority of the people didn’t go to school for firefighting, or fire science degrees,” he said. “If it’s something you are willing to do and you’re just wondering how much time it takes and stuff like that, come on down, talk to us, and we can discuss all that.”
All of the training for new recruits will be done within the department, so, no experience is necessary to become a paid, on-call firefighter, he said.
“People need no prior training, we take care of all of that,” said Swanson. “We send you to training, and this last group was all done in Detroit Lakes during the evenings so you’re not missing time from work.”
Additionally, the training courses are free for all recruits and all firefighters qualify for a pension based on their time served, according to Becker County Fire Departments Facebook post.
The fire department has been doing these periodic open houses to find new recruits over the past three years, he said.
As of April, Detroit Lakes needed to fill seven additional slots to become fully staffed with 30 firefighters.
Mayor Matt Brenk, left, swears-in new Detroit Lakes firefighters Adam Schnathorst, right, and Ryan Schute during a regular meeting of the Detroit Lakes City Council on April 13, 2021, at the Historic Holmes Theatre. (Michael Achterling / Tribune)
“If you want to give back, you want to serve your community, come to your local fire station and if you fit the requirements, where you live and where you work, and the amount of time that’s needed, then every department should have applications available,” said Swanson. “Fill out an application and we’ll keep you posted as things move forward.”