Guest Opinion: Brainerd Fire Department marks 150 years of service

The Brainerd Fire Department was organized in 1872 by 37 men paying one dollar to belong.

Tim Holmes
Brainerd Fire Chief Tim Holmes

Fire is in my blood.

This weekend — Sunday, Feb. 13, to be exact — our community commemorates the sesquicentennial of the Brainerd Fire Department. It also provides an opportunity to look back and honor the many men and women who have served our city for the last 150 years.

My great-great-grandfather Henry McGinn is among that esteemed list. Chief McGinn served the city of Brainerd as fire chief in the early 1900s. For 30 years, he proudly represented a fine group of men committed to protecting their city just as so many others had done for nearly three decades prior and have for 90-plus years since. I am honored to continue the tradition, representing 37 firefighters currently serving on the Brainerd Fire Department.

It goes without saying — times have certainly changed in the past 150 years. Since I accepted the opportunity to serve as your Brainerd Fire Chief nearly seven years ago, I have particularly enjoyed looking through historical records and photos and noting the sheer determination and commitment of those who came before me.

The Brainerd Fire Department was organized in 1872 by, ironically, 37 men paying one dollar to belong. The meeting happened on Feb. 13 at the Askew Billiard Hall at Fifth and Front streets.


What began with buckets and a well, 15 years later became a two-story fire station on the north end of South Fifth Street. A few years later, horses joined the department and served for 20 years before being replaced by more “modern” equipment. A new fire station was built on Fifth Street in 1914 next to City Hall. Then, in 1982, the fire department moved into its current location at 23 Laurel St. near the Mississippi River. In 2004, a substation was built on Mill Avenue.

Today, as we look back on 150 years rich in history, this department proudly serves the cities of Brainerd and Baxter, as well as surrounding townships, with a dedicated department, highly advanced apparatus, and equipment ready to serve in any emergency.

I am honored to lead the Brainerd Fire Department into the future and can only dream that, someday, my great-great-grandchildren will have the opportunity to serve on this fine department and look back on the progress we have made over the years.

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