BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. (WCCO) – The Brooklyn Park Fire Department is pushing toward a staff consisting of full-time firefighters.

Right now, the city relies on paid on-call firefighters to respond to some emergencies.

On any given day, there are six firefighters on duty. The new model would boost that number to eight.

The department held a controlled burn demonstration Saturday, but in the real world, firefighters respond to these sorts of situations all the time. That’s why T. John Cunningham, the city’s fire chief, is working to make changes to the way his department is staffed after certain needs were recently highlighted.

An independent assessment completed last month reveals the department’s budget isn’t big enough to meet all service demands throughout the city.

Brooklyn Park isn’t the only department that’s facing this problem.

“In many areas across the country, they are calling it a crisis … just being able to attract and retain volunteer firefighters,” Cunningham said.

Cities are growing, and with the population boom comes more emergencies.

Chief Cunningham is in the process of implementing a plan to dissolve the paid on-call program and work within the current budget to hire more full-time staff. He believes the change will help the department better serve the city and its residents.

The city of Maplewood recently made a similar change to staff the entire department with full-time firefighters.

Mary McGuire

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