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Brainerd City Council: Fire department stil won't go on medical calls

The Brainerd Fire Department will still not be allowed to go on medical calls.

At the Brainerd City Council meeting Monday, the council revisited the topic.

The topic first appeared before the Safety and Public Works Committee Monday. The committee made no recommendation to the full council, which means operations would stay the same and the department would not be allowed to go on medical calls.

Fire Chief Kevin Stunek requested the department be allowed to return to responding to medical calls, and spoke at the committee and council meetings in favor of it.

“It’s a valuable part of the city,” he said. “Citizens are very lucky to have trained medical staff on duty 24/7.”

The council previously voted 4-3 to stop the fire department from responding to medical calls at a December meeting, agreeing to revisit the issue on May 5.

The department’s responding to medical calls has been an issue for the city for the past several months. Since the department started responding to medical calls in 2012, it has been directed by council twice to stop.

Stunek previously said there are better outcomes for people when first responders are able to get there faster. Stunek said other fire departments, such as Pillager, Crosslake and Pine River, also respond to medical calls. The Brainerd Fire Department only responded to medical calls in the city of Brainerd.

Still, there are challenges, which have been spelled out by council members in the past, including:

• There is a perception in the township areas the fire department is passing on costs of responding to medical calls.

• There is a concern the fire department is responding to minor medical issues and it may getting in the way of other duties.

• The issue of what vehicle to use if responding to medical calls. The bigger trucks cost more, but if firefighters get the call for a fire while responding to a medical call, they need to be prepared.

At Monday’s meeting, council members questioned what the Fire Advisory Committee thought of the topic. The committee hasn’t made a formal recommendation.

City Council member Gary Scheeler argued that “for 130 years, the department has not been doing medical runs. Why are we reinventing the wheel?”

JESSIE PERRINE may be reached at or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at