BRAINERD — Brainerd Fire Department training this past Monday, May 8, incorporated multiple principles and scenarios to maintain the department's readiness.

Such training is an ongoing process, meant to keep firefighters prepared for whatever emergency they are called to handle.

In 2022, the Brainerd Fire Department conducted nearly 3,600 hours of training, including live fire training, emergency medical services, auto extrication, self-contained breathing apparatus, emergency driving, pump operations and aerial operations.

Brainerd Fire Chief Tim Holmes said the department regularly meets on Mondays to conduct training. Though during the summer months, they cut back to about twice a month to allow for vacations and family gatherings.

“On Monday, we had multiple scenarios, where we tried to pull in different single-trainings and make it into a multi-phase training,” Holmes said. “So with the first one, we worked on truck placement, hose deployment and forcible entry.”

The first scenario involved two trailers, one of which was on fire. Firefighters needed to first make entry through a door on the non-burning trailer before another team could enter the burning trailer.

Holmes said the fire trailer was used to teach interior fire attack, salvage and overhaul — also known as putting out the fire and making sure it stays out.

“For the car fire, same thing, we're working on truck placement, pumping, hose deployment and then “For the car fire, same thing, we're working on truck placement, pumping, hose deployment and then extinguishing the car fire safely,” Holmes said in reference to a second scenario.

The department responded to 643 calls for service in 2022, an 8% increase over their previous busiest year, which was 2021 with 595 calls for service.

The Brainerd Fire Department has a coverage area of 260 square miles, with a population of over 33,000 permanent residents, according to its 2022 annual report. The Brainerd Fire Department has mutual aid agreements with 29 regional fire departments, which protect 4,000 square miles.

The department also is one of only a handful of departments in the region with the equipment and training to respond to technical hazardous materials incidents.

Training is an essential component of providing effective firefighting services, Holmes said. Brainerd firefighters fill many different roles to protect the community, including training for medical response, auto extrication, rescue, fire control and suppression, hazardous materials, Occupational Safety and Health Administration issues, incident command systems, pumping, fitness, tactical operations, aircraft rescue fire fighting, truck operations, emergency driving, self-contained breathing apparatus, ladders, ventilation and confined space.

Two firefighters are talking while taking a knee.

Brainerd firefighter Chris Wallace, left, talks to firefighter Nick Anderson Monday, May 8, 2023, after they work through the scenario.

Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

“Our goal is to be able to have anyone come in here and get in any one of the trucks, drive it and operate it,” Holmes said. “Now of course, some of them are way better at it and more proficient at it. But that's kind of the way we train because of being a paid-on-call department.”

TIM SPEIER, staff writer, can be reached on Twitter


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