Looking inside the Grand Rapids Fire Department, you’ll find a hardworking, professional, and busy group of volunteers. In 2015, fire fighters responded to 240 calls for service, 167 of which required the entire department. That entire department response is an
95 feet may be a whole lot of ladder, but the City of Grand Rapids counts itself lucky to have a 95’ Aerial Platform Ladder in its fleet. This large ladder truck gets far more use than you’d suppose. In fact,
The Grand Rapids Fire Department is rich in history and tradition, and our members have continued to serve their community with pride, courage and integrity for more than 115 years.
In March of 1893, the first Pokegama Hotel burned to the ground. At that time, Grand Rapids did not have a regular fire department, but the village did own a chemical engine and hook and ladder equipment (valued at $2,000). However, the chemical engine was rendered useless on this call when it became frozen solid within minutes of responding, and likewise, the La Prairie Hook and Ladder Company had difficulty assisting in the call due to the deep snow.
On December 8, 1894, the Grand Rapids Village Council officially voted to form a village volunteer fire department. Ordinance Number 23 officially formed the Grand Rapids Fire Department and Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 to protect the nearly 1,500 residents within the village.
During this time and into the late 1920’s, the Grand Rapids Fire Department was divided into two very distinct units: Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 and Hose Company No. 1.
In the early 1900’s there were many spectacular fires in Grand Rapids due to, among other things, wood frame construction and poor heating plants.
In 1908, department membership bolstered 36 firefighters – the highest in the department’s history – and members received $10 per year under conditions of Ordinance #48.
In 1923, the first motorized fire engine was purchased by the Village of Grand Rapids: a 1923 Graham Bros. (Dodge) for $4,751.00. This truck was later refurbished in the late 1980’s by department personnel and it is still used as a parade unit today.
At the present time the Grand Rapids Fire Department is comprised of 30 paid on call firefighters with 2 trainees, a ½ time paid Fire Inspector position, and an operating budget of nearly $600,000.00. The department provides fire suppression, rescue, and hazardous materials response for more than 20,000 people residing in the cities of Grand Rapids, LaPrairie, and 6 other townships, in an area that totals more than 270 square miles.
Our fleet consists of 11 different apparatus and various trailers and support equipment located in two stations, including a 2009 Pierce 95’ Aerial Platform Ladder Truck at a purchase price of nearly $1 million. Our department has also been a contractor to the State of Minnesota as a Hazardous Materials Chemical Assessment Team since 1995, primarily covering 9 counties in northern Minnesota for hazmat emergencies.
Although the size of the Grand Rapids area has grown, the faces and names of the department have changed, and the firefighting strategies and tactics have evolved, the mission of the Grand Rapids Fire Department remains constant: "To provide the best possible service to the citizens and surrounding communities in the areas of fire suppression, rescue, and fire prevention and education at the best possible value for our customers."