Kevin Grote

Fire Chief Kevin Grote (middle) is holding his 2020 Firefighter of the Year Award from the American Legion Department of Minnesota. Standing next to Grote are James Johnson (left), Legion Post 85 chaplain; and Ron Rollins (right), second vice commander of Legion Post 85. Photo submitted

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North Branch Fire Chief Kevin Grote was awarded the 2020 Firefighter of the Year from the American Legion Department of Minnesota on Nov. 9.

Representatives of the Legion Post 85 attended a Fire Department meeting earlier this month, during which Grote was presented with the award.

“I was honored to be chosen as the state of Minnesota firefighter of the year,” Grote said. “This is the only award I’ve received. So I’m very honored to get it.”

Grote has served on the North Branch Fire Department for 26 years. He said the first few years, he served as a firefighter. Later he transitioned to a training officer where he was responsible for training firefighters in his department, Grote said.

“And from there I moved on to second assistant chief, the first assistant chief,” Grote said. “And the last 11 years, I’ve been the (fire) chief for North Branch.”

Grote is also a seventh-grade teacher at the North Branch Area Public Schools. When asked why he thinks he was awarded the 2020 Firefighter of the Year Award, he said, “Lots of years of service.”

“I thoroughly enjoyed the Fire Department,” Grote said. “I’m a teacher in North Branch. So I spent 30 years in North Branch teaching, coaching. And the Fire Department was just another way of giving back to the community.”

Grote has derived inspiration for serving his community from his parents, who, he explained, loved to serve their community.

“It’s been a great experience,” Grote said about serving at the department. “A lot of great firefighters on North Branch Fire Department. It’s a friendly group that helps each other and serves the community.”

Grote said that the award that he received was very meaningful to him because its source is a service-oriented organization.

“American Legion, they’re all service-oriented,” Grote said. “And to have a service organization honor you for your service, you know, it stands out as a great honor to get it from them. You don’t get many honors in the fire service for a local department like ours, and it’s nice to be recognized.”

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