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As it deals with more fires, Brooklyn Park looks to increase full-time firefighters

The department is struggling to keep up with demand for its services.

As a growing population brings more fires to Brooklyn Park, the city's fire department is looking to shift away from "on-call" firefighters in favor of full-timers.

The city's fire chief John Cunningham is recommending the city eliminate its 21 paid-on-call firefighters and replace them with 11 full-timers, after a report highlighted the city's current staffing levels present a risk for resident safety.

An independent report carried out for the city noted there was "diminishing participation from the paid-on-call staff" at the department, adding that it has an "insufficient budget to meet all service demands."

Cunningham's plan would increase the number of on-duty firefighters from 6 to 8, but would cost the city a shade over $400,000-a-year extra, which could be covered by federal grants.

It would mean that the city's 4 fire stations would be manned at all times by at least two firefighters. Currently the East Station is unmanned, per CCX Media.

The report prepared for the city shows that Brooklyn Park deals with a significantly higher amount of calls for service than other Twin Cities suburbs, albeit it has a larger population than most.

It receives more than 9,000 emergency calls a year, almost 7,000 more calls for service than the fire department in Bloomington, which has a larger population than Brooklyn Park.

It's responding to these calls despite having a smaller fire budget than some other suburban cities, including Burnsville and Eden Prairie.

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It's expected the proposed staffing changes would take 18 months to implement.

WCCO notes that the City of Maplewood recently moved its fire department from paid-on-call to full-time staffing.

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