For Fire Chief Kelli Kronschnabel, it was 2016 when she arrived from Grand Forks after 20 years with that department. Kelli is the first to admit there was an adjustment to move a family and learn a new community, but she said, “it’s been good for us.”
Kelli was born and raised in Fertile, Minnesota, and would attend college in Grand Forks.
The challenge of a growing city, and a growing Fire Department, is staffing. “We’re always looking for staff, ” said Kronschnabel. “We like to have an active list, and we like to hire once a year, but sometimes we are required to (hire) more than once a year.”
The active list was recently closed, and two firefighters were hired. And now the process begins with another round of recruitment. She said, “We’d like to hire three more off of this list.” According to Kronschnabel, “that’s to open the next fire station, Station 5. We need 12 people to fully staff that station. There are three battalions and four people per battalion.”
When talking about opportunities for employment, Kronschnabel points out that when it comes to public safety in general “the Minot Fire Department hires on average three to four firefighters per year. If they have a background in law enforcement, the Minot Police Department is always looking to hire law enforcement personnel. We also hire dispatchers. If they have an EMT or have a desire to get their EMT, it’s a great springboard into getting a job as a firefighter. As an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) they can get on with Trinity Ambulance and if they desire to move on to being a firefighter, it’s a requirement of the job to get it. It’s just one of those things that you already have checked off that makes you a little more marketable, not only here but if you are moving around the country, you have that in your tool belt if you are going in for an interview.”
Looking at what it takes to be a firefighter, she explained “it’s normally a younger person’s job; you have to be in really good physical shape. And then we look at what [the applicants] bring to the table. I love farm kids because they bring that knowledge of how to run a machine, being able to work hard… that work ethic is huge.” And normally firefighters have multiple talents. “I say that if you are looking for a side contractor, come to the fire department. We have a tiler, we have a roofer, we have an electrician, the normal handyman types, landscape guys, and you take them and put them together as teams.”
The Minot Fire Department currently has 60 firefighters on shift. There are three prevention people (inspections, investigations), three upper level staff, and two civilians, one who is an admin in the office and then a fleet mechanic. “An example is that the Minot Fire Department will be looking for a fleet mechanic in the next few years, when our current mechanic decides to retire,” according to Kronschnabel.
“Something that might appeal to a person who has been in the military is our 48/96 schedule. They are on duty for 48 hours and off duty for 96 hours. “[The schedule] can be really appealing for single people, and it becomes really appealing for families once they get adjusted to it because you are home a lot more and the employees have more quality time with their families on the weekends.”
Looking ahead, Chief Kronschnabel says that the new Fire Station 5 will open in mid-August with a ribbon cutting and promotional ceremony. “We’re excited because of how the building turned out. I promised the people that our building would look like the neighborhood, and we think we met that goal. I want to be a neighbor, and a good neighbor.”
For those interested in researching public safety positions in the City of Minot, they can go to minotnd.gov/employment opportunities.