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Wanted: firefighters in Osakis

Firefighters try their hand at water wars during a past Osakis Festival. (File photo)

The Osakis Fire Department is looking for a couple of new recruits.

It's allowed to have 20 firefighters on its all-volunteer roster and there are currently 19. Another will be retiring at the end of the year so there will be two potential openings.

The application deadline is this Friday, Dec. 8. Those interested may get an application by contacting fire department member Brian Ferris at 320-859-2814, City Hall at 320-859-2150 or other firefighters.

One of the main requirements: Applicants must live within six minutes from the Fire Hall.

The application process includes an in-house interview and a physical agility assessment. Applicants will put on full turnout gear, including an air pack, climb a ladder and roll fire hose.

Craig Dropik, second assistant fire chief who has been with the department for nine years, said that serving as a firefighter is rewarding.

"I like being able to give back to the community and help others," he said. "It's been said that when everyone else is running out, we're running in, so it takes a special kind of person to be a firefighter."

It also takes commitment. Firefighters meet every Monday night, devoting an hour or two to training and education.

The meetings pay off. On average, the Osakis Fire Department responds to about 50 fire calls a year, Dropik said. So far this year, they've responded to about 35 calls. "We went about two months without a call, which is unusually quiet for us," Dropik said.

Besides fighting fires, members are actively involved in fire prevention, visiting public schools and St. Agnes School and helping nursing homes conduct fire drills. The fire department is also at the city's annual fireworks show.

The department includes a mix of experience. Five members have served more than 20 years. The next tier has served between 10 and 15 years. Some have served less than 10 years and a few have joined within the last five years. Combined, the firefighters have 253 years of experience.

"It's kind of spread out," Dropik said. "We're changing over with some long-time members retiring and getting some new blood into the department."

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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