The 2019 West Suburban Fire Academy recently completed initial firefighter training. This year’s class included eight new Maple Grove Firefighters who completed 20 weeks of classes, with sessions meeting two evenings each week. Most weeks the new firefighters attended training on Monday and Thursday evenings, but inclusion of some Saturday sessions provided additional training for practical hands-on topics, including live fire training and state certification testing.
The West Suburban Fire Academy is a shared services effort with primary sponsorship shared by Golden Valley, Maple Grove, Plymouth, and the West Metro Fire Rescue District. Sharing the effort among the host agencies allows Maple Grove to provide high quality training to new firefighters with limited or no experience as firefighters.
According to Fire Chief Tim Bush, “This training allows new firefighters an opportunity to train and learn with their peers. Each topic is taught by lead instructors that are subject matter experts. Students learn from the senior firefighters and fire officers that they will continue working with after completing their academy training.”
New firefighters typically attend initial training through one of several options. Most night available firefighters typically attend training through the West Suburban Fire Academy, while day available firefighters may find that their work and personal commitments require training that better fits their schedule.
In 2019, Maple Grove also has three apprentice firefighters attending training through the Northern Dakota Training Academy.
Maple Grove uses a fire department staffing model that depends on citizens willing to serve as part-time firefighters. The majority of Maple Grove’s nearly 100 paid on-call firefighters have full-time jobs and serve their community as part-time firefighters. Maple Grove has a strong tradition of staffing its fire department with well-trained and professional part-time firefighters who respond to fires, motor vehicle crashes, and other emergencies when needed.
Chief Bush said, “We have a small group of career firefighters that support timely response, but paid on-call firefighters are the primary responders. We’ve found that many people living in Maple Grove are interested in serving their community, but don’t always realize that they can do so by becoming part-time firefighters.”
Most people who join the Maple Grove Fire Department have little or no previous experience as firefighters. Maple Grove residents interested in becoming firefighters can be hired as apprentice firefighters. They then attend a basic fire academy where they receive training that meets national standards for firefighting and emergency response. New firefighters validate their academy learning by completing firefighter certification testing administered by the Minnesota Fire Service Certification Board.
Traditionally, it is more difficult to find people who are available on weekdays, during daytime hours. Chief Bush says, “Finding people that are able to respond during the day is one of the biggest challenges for most departments like ours. We are looking for people that are home during the daytime and are interested in serving their community as a firefighter.”
Maple Grove currently has both day and evening openings at each of five fire stations. Maple Grove is currently accepting firefighter applications through Friday, Aug. 9. Information can be found at www.MGFire.info.