Volunteer Fire Departments Continue Struggle To Recruit

Cloquet Area Fire District Is Short 9 Volunteers

Cloquet Area Fire District Chief Kevin Schroeder started out as a volunteer firefighter more than 25 years ago.

Now he commands a staff of career, on-call and volunteer firefighters that make up the Cloquet Area Fire District.

Schroeder took over command in Cloquet five years ago, and has never had a full staff of volunteers under his command. 

Cloquet has around 250 calls for service, but that number is increasing every year.

Shroeder says structure fires are declining, but firefighters are being called out more often for car accidents, medical emergencies and search operations than they were in the past.

Operating without a full staff is of great concern as volunteers and professional firefighters leave the department and aren’t replaced. 

According to Schroeder most departments, including Cloquet, will provide the 150-160 hours of training necessary to become certified as a level 1 firefighter, so volunteers do not need previous experience. 

Schroeder added that Cloquet volunteers train every Monday evening for around three hours and might respond to between four and six calls a week. 

Anyone interested in volunteering in Cloquet should visit the Fire District webpage.

Chief Schroeder says most departments have similar information on their pages, but people interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter should drop by their local fire hall to learn about opportunities.

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