Camp Ripley opens new fire hall
Though crews have been using the building for about a month, they are still moving everything into the new building while maintaining 24-hour readiness to help the community in any way they can, the fire chief said.
CAMP RIPLEY — Camp Ripley celebrated the opening of its new fire hall April 1 with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting and open house to commemorate the new facility.
The hall features five dorm-style sleeping quarters along with office spaces, said Camp Ripley Fire Chief Pat Boone. The building also has upgraded laundry and shower facilities, a kitchen and a lounge for crew members working their shifts at the fire hall.
“Our kitchen is a super modern kitchen with the equipment, the counter space, the cooking ability, the ovens and stuff like that,” Boone said. “It's probably one of the nicer features of the building, our kitchen.”
Camp Ripley Fire Department has 16 full-time staff on three shifts living at the facility when on call.
“I'd say the biggest thing that's been a huge modernization for us has been the kitchen,” said Capt. Andrew Leblanc. “We're here making three meals a day when we're on a 24-hour shift. And being able to eat as a crew really brings the camaraderie together, so that we can be together and have a good healthy meal.”
In 2010, the department hired its first full-time firefighters and in 2019, the fire station transitioned to being staffed 24 hours per day, seven days a week.
“We started out of the Department of Public Safety building with security officers here on post,” Leblanc said. “We worked a 40-hour flex schedule. We evolved from that building into the airfield building, where we got where we had our crash trucks for airfield response. Then our schedules changed and we got more days. As we got more trucks and outgrew that building we, then in 2020, moved into the HEM Building, where we were able to house more of our trucks and we went into a 24-hour status.”
One important aspect of the department is how it helps support the communities surrounding Camp Ripley, leaders said.
“We made an agreement between Camp Ripley Fire Department and the local emergency services agencies in the community,” Boone said. “We are here to if you need us to render aid to you — if it's hauling water, if it's manpower, if it's equipment, we're here, and we want to help you anytime you need us.”
Camp Ripley Fire Department’s primary area is Morrison County. The department’s response area reaches up into Crow Wing County with the Brainerd Fire Department, with which Camp Ripley has a mutual agreement. On the west side, it dips into Cass County, working with Pillager Area Fire and Rescue.
Though crews have been using the building for about a month, they are still moving everything into the new building while maintaining 24-hour readiness to help the community in any way they can, Boone said.