Duluth Fire Department Training 12 New Hires, Most In History

DULUTH, Minn. — Recently, fire departments have had difficulty recruiting and retaining staff. What used to be hundreds of applicants might now only be dozens. But over the next two weeks, the Duluth Fire Department is training the largest class of firefighters they’ve had in years.

“Historically, when I got hired 12 years ago, there was 300 people on the list. In this go around we had maybe 60 or 70 maybe less than that,” Damon Laurion, the Training Officer said.

Twelve firefighters were hired in January, and typically, they train right away, but because of covid, they couldn’t assemble till now, and have already been working full time. But compared to previous classes, this is the largest one in program history

“The numbers are dropping for applicants so we need to figure out how we get people interested in being career firefighters,” Laurion said.

Although there aren’t quick solutions to addressing the shortage, there still are many reasons for those to leave the business.

“High burnout rate, you know, high injury rates, everything like that. Working the schedule we do and the long hours that we do, it’s got a pretty high turnover rate and people get burnt out from it,” Tyson Sohrweide,  Probationary Firefighter, said.

But the group out at the emergency response training center in Gary New Duluth on Monday are eager to get going, and use all the resources available to them to replicate real scenarios.

“So up here we’ve got a bunch of different fire trucks, bunch of different hoses and everything that we can use and if you go down the road a little bit there’s full structures that replicate different structures in the Duluth area,” Sohrweide said.

They’ll learn search training skills to rescue victims, vertical ventilation on roofs, force able entry and more.

“And it’s nice cause we’re not right in the middle of town putting up a bunch of smoke, we’re out here and we’ve got a lot of space to do it so fire training is messy you know, we’re spraying water, cutting open buildings, breaking stuff so it’s nice to be able to come out here and do it,” Laurion added.

And the training process helps the group in more ways than one.

“The best part of doing it is just being out here, being with the guys I got hired with, meeting some new instructors that come in the line, meeting all them and just getting in the reps and putting in the work to earn our spot in the Duluth Fire Department,” Sohrweide said.

Four more recruits will be joining the department in the next few months as well.

Categories: Minnesota, News, News – Latest News, Public Safety