ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – St. Paul firefighters are feeling a little helpless Monday night. They say they can’t fully protect citizens because some valuable, specialized equipment was stolen Sunday afternoon.

Dangling from the air, descending into caves – what is most people’s fear is Mike Aspnes’s joy.

“It’s technical, it’s physically and mentally challenging and not everyone can do it, so we all take great pride in being able to do it,” Aspnes said.

He captains St. Paul Fire’s Technical Rescue Team, which handles aerial rescues and other types of tricky rescues.

On Monday, they trained for a possible Minnesota State Fair Skyride rescue, but they are not equipped like they used to be.

It all changed during Sunday’s training at Mounds Park when the instructors briefly stepped away.

“They were gone from the area for 10, 15 minutes while they briefed the incoming students and returned to the area where they have left the equipment and then it was gone,” Aspnes said.

The thieves were able to get away with about $4,000 worth of equipment. They took life-saving devices, pulleys and tons of carabineers.

“This is, it’s life safety equipment. This is equipment we need to save lives,” Aspnes said.

Aspnes says should there be a major emergency, the city will now be less prepared to help.

“I think it’s detrimental to the citizens of St. Paul. I think it’s detrimental to the fire department,” Aspnes said.

Firefighters are asking anyone who sees the equipment to call St. Paul Police at 651-291-1111.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield