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State-of-the-art equipment benefits Brainerd Fire, community

Brainerd Fire Captain Mark Turner, who has been a firefighter for 16 years, Thur1 / 2
Brainerd Fire Chief Kevin Stunek holds a new carbon monoxide monitor that the fi2 / 2

If you have a fire — no matter if it was a small garbage fire or a larger kitchen fire — what would you do?

Would you try to put out the fire yourself? If so do you know where your fire extinguisher is, or do you even have one? Or would you call 911 to get the professional firefighters on scene to extinguish the fire?

The Brainerd Fire Department always advises residents to first call 911 for their safety and then — if it is possible — to try to extinguish the fire yourself.

The Brainerd Fire Department has been conducting fire extinguisher training for more than 20 years with individuals for their own personal safety and to businesses with two or more employees who are required by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Ne equipment has improved the training offered by the Brainerd Fire Department. The fire department is now equipped with six new fire extinguishers and a Bull/Ex Digital Safety, a flat screen device that displays the fire digitally and which can be used for training year-round. Previously, the department used regular fire extinguishers and would only do the training during the warmer months because it was easier.

With the new equipment, the training can be done indoors or outdoors, all-year round.

Brainerd Fire Chief Kevin Stunek said the fire extinguisher equipment was made possible through a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant. Stunek said the fire department received a grant to put in a new exhaust and security system at its main fire station located on Laurel Street. After the project was completed, the fire department had about $16,000 left over that it could use for safety-related items and decided to use it for the fire extinguisher equipment.

“We train hundreds of people on fire extinguisher trainings a year,” said Stunek. “We are one of fewer than five fire departments in the state who have this equipment. Since we got this equipment last week we have done a half dozen trainings.”

Stunek said the fire department helps out a lot of businesses in the area with training, such as hospitals, nursing homes, city and county employees as well as companies like Bang Printing and Keystone Automotive. The training takes about 30-45 minutes and the cost is $5 per person or up to $100. Training can be done at the fire station or at the business or home.

The Brainerd Fire Department received four water mist spray and two digital fire extinguishers. The digital extinguishers uses a laser that extinguishes the fire. A firefighter works a remote control that controls what level of fire the trainee will put out. There are four levels, or classes, of fire: Class A is combustibles fire, such as a garbage can fire or a fire in a stove; Class B is a liquid fire, such as a gasoline spill; Class C is a current or electricity fire, such as a kitchen appliance or a generator that sparks a fire; or Class D which is “anything that dents” fire, or a fire that is caused by a metal of some kind, such as a snowmobile or older John Deere that catches fire.

Brainerd Fire Captain Mark Turner, who has been a firefighter for 16 years, said the new equipment helps the fire department educate the public more efficiently. Turner said training will help a person extinguish fires at home or work.

“It makes our job easier. We teach them the right way to extinguish a fire,” Stunek said. “It’d be great to have no fire calls, but that is not going to happen.”

The fire department also received a new carbon monoxide monitor that detects four gasses in the air: Carbon monoxide, oxygen, hydrogen sulfide and what is called lower explosive where the gas varies from product to product.

Stunek said the monitor was purchased through a CenterPoint Energy grant. Stunek said the monitor is not as accurate as their existing monitors, but it gives firefighters another monitor to use to help detect gases in the air.

Turner said that the fire department used to have three or four calls a night regarding carbon monoxide detectors. However, there are not as many calls today about carbon monoxide checks. About 10 percent of the calls are related to carbon monoxide checks.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at or 855-5851. Follow me on Twitter at