MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Brooklyn Park is looking for new firefighters.

The city is recruiting women and men to apply for the upcoming cadet academy.

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“[It is] part of an initiative to staff our East Fire Station and to deploy an additional engine company in the city of Brooklyn Park,” Fire Chief John Cunningham said.

He says the city is changing the way it recruits. Typically, the city hires firefighters from neighboring departments with experience.

“What we’re doing this year is standing up our own EMS and fire academy so people don’t need any prior training or work experience to enter the Brooklyn Park Fire Department. We will provide all the training and education you need, including emergency medical technician training, Firefighter 1, Firefighter 2,” Cunningham said.

(credit: CBS)

The process will be competitive, but Brooklyn Park residents will get preference points for the full-time firefighter cadet academy.

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The city is 50% people of color. Chief Cunningham is excited for an opportunity to diversify their ranks.

“As a fire chief who happens to be gay, I understand first-hand what diversity means in the fire service. I actually realize that on the personal level on the opportunity that exist for people of all backgrounds to serve in the fire service,” Cunningham said.

Brooklyn Park is transitioning its firefighters from paid part time to full time.

“In our part-time ranks right now we have one person of color and a female, so we’re really trying to aggressively change what our department looks like and be more representative of the community that we serve,” Cunningham said.

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The department will begin taking applications on Jan. 16. You must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, and a valid driver’s license.

Reg Chapman