ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Brainerd’s newest firefighters work through the Crow Wing Fire Academy

Community members from across the county attend the Crow Wing Fire Academy’s fire training Thursday, Nov. 17, at the Brainerd Fire Department.

New firefighters leaning about opening a door.
New firefighters learn about doorway-forced entry Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, from Brainerd firefighters Brian Kargel, left, and Randy Kalis, during the Crow Wing Fire Academy’s fire training at the Brainerd Fire Department.
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch
We are part of The Trust Project.

BRAINERD — A few dozen residents of Crow Wing County were at the Brainerd Fire Department Thursday, Nov. 17, for a night of training as they worked toward completing Crow Wing Fire Academy’s training.

With community members from Pequot, Brainerd, Crosslake, Crosby, Cyuna, Ironton, Ideal and Garrison, Deerwood, Brainerd Fire Chief Tim Holmes said the idea of the academy is to give them the basic knowledge to start as an entry-level firefighter within an organization.

“They're taught the basics from putting on their personal protective equipment to putting on their SCBA, which is their breathing apparatus, to fire behavior, nozzle work and hose movement, and just things like that,” Holmes said. “The basic things that firefighters do on a fire scene.”

Holmes said the idea is when the training is done, they will be allowed to start going into buildings and start doing the work on the ground. Though after graduating, new firefighters are teamed up with a seasoned firefighter to keep an eye on them and make sure they are doing things properly.

Attending the fire academy are Brainerd’s four newest recruits — Anthony Moberg, Tyler Ogren, Nick Anderson and Isaac High.

ADVERTISEMENT

The new firefighters will have completed Fire 1 and 2 along with some hazmat training once the course is completed, which takes about 20 weeks, Holmes said.

New firefighters leaning about opening a door.
New firefighters learn about doorway-forced entry Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, from Brainerd firefighters Brian Kargel, left, and Randy Kalis, during the Crow Wing Fire Academy’s fire training at the Brainerd Fire Department.
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

The four new firefighters will bring the Brainerd Fire Department to 38 paid on-call firefighters.

“A good number for us,” Holmes said.

Nick Anderson said the academy consists of both online coursework and in-person training, including lectures and tests with each chapter of the course.

“It's difficult and it's a big time commitment,” Nick Anderson said.

The time and commitment required to work with a fire department is nothing new to both Nick Anderson and Anthony Moberg, who both had relatives who served on the Brainerd Fire Department for over 20 years.

Read more
Not catching ice dam buildups on a roof can lead to extensive damage if not taken care of quickly.
With the recent death of a Brainerd student, mental health resources in Crow Wing County have stepped in to help their friends and neighbors through a difficult time.
Billie Ray Clark was convicted of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in Brainerd in 2020.
The child was dropped off at school the next day with “significant injuries” to her head, neck and face area.

Anthony Moberg moved to the Brainerd lakes area in 2018 to take care of his grandfather and found himself drawn to serve the same community in which his grandfather took such pride.

Nick Anderson’s father, Bob Anderson, served on the Brainerd Fire Department for almost 22 years before retiring in 2018.

ADVERTISEMENT

In 1965, Terry Moberg purchased Brainerd Ambulance and operated it until 1987, when he sold the business to North Memorial Health Hospital. He also was a volunteer firefighter for 21 years.

“With how much history my grandfather has with the community and with this department, it just feels awesome to kind of follow in his footsteps,” Anthony Moberg said.

Three firefighters listen to instructions.
New firefighters learn about maintaining team integrity Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, from Brainerd firefighter James Norwood, left, during the Crow Wing Fire Academy’s fire training at the Brainerd Fire Department.
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

Brainerd’s new firefighters were hired Aug. 1 and are allowed to respond to calls but are not allowed to enter buildings for firefighting until completion of the academy in January of 2023.

High, who lives next to Station No. 2 at Mill Avenue and M Street Northeast, said he tries to go on all the calls he can since joining the department.

“I can literally walk over there if I wanted to,” High said. “Beat everyone (there) and have everything up, running and ready to rock and roll.”

High said he was born and raised in the Brainerd lakes area and looks forward to serving his community and setting a good example for his 2-year-old daughter.

Also looking to set a good example for his community is Ogren, who grew up and went to school in the Brainerd lakes area and sees himself sticking around the place he calls home.

A Group of people listens to instructions.
Nick Anderson, right, learns about forced door entry from Brainerd firefighters Brian Kargel and Randy Kalis, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, during the Crow Wing Fire Academy’s fire training at the Brainerd Fire Department.
Tim Speier / Brainerd Disptatch

It's good to get both classroom training and to be able to see those same techniques used in the field as they learn, Ogren said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Holmes said the training the new firefighters receive is in a controlled environment where they learn all the proper techniques and steps to take when going to a call for service. And the field training is there to show them that no fire ever has a set plan.

High said when they go out on calls they are not allowed to mask up, but pull hoses and grab equipment for the crew as they watch and learn.

“Just watching — some of these guys have been on for 10, 12 years — the way they do stuff, it's so systematic and it's kind of cool,” High said. “You're watching them do something in the field and then the next week, you come into the classroom and we're practicing the same stuff.”

With yearly turnover and retirements, Holmes said the department plans to start its hiring process again sometime in the spring of 2023 and plans on having another county fire academy in the late fall.

“I saw the ad and I thought it'd be a good way to serve my community, a community I've been a part of for so long,” Ogren said. “It's time to give back and be a part of it. You know, serve it on a daily basis and be part of something bigger.”

TIM SPEIER, staff writer, can be reached on Twitter @timmy2thyme , call 218-855-5859 or email tim.speier@brainerddispatch.com .

Tim Speier joined the Brainerd Dispatch in October 2021, covering Public Safety.
What To Read Next
Subscribe and listen to the Brainerd Dispatch Minute at brainerddispatch.com, Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts.
Brainerd High School and the Brainerd Family YMCA are partnering to offer a lifeguard class this semester and allow students to become certified through the American Red Cross.
Area school closings, delayed starts and early dismissals, business, event and meeting notices. Check back for updates to these listings.
Mom protects her cheeks with moleskin at ski meet.