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Double duty: Lino Lakes police to fight fire as well as crime

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Police in Lino Lakes will be expected to swap their handcuffs for hoses in the coming months, when they become the city's first line of defense against fire.

In what is becoming an increasing trend across the Twin Cities metro area, the city's 25 police officers will be trained as firefighters over the next 12 months, according to the Star Tribune.

Patrol SUVs will carry firefighting gear, breathing apparatuses and carbon monoxide detectors, the newspaper notes, and officers will call for backup and step into action if a fire should occur in the area. They will be paid an extra $2,700 a year to assume the firefighting responsibilities and start on Jan. 1, 2016.

The Lino Lakes PD's Twitter account described the department as being "the Swiss Army Knife of public service" after the move was announced.

It is the latest city to experiment with cross-training of emergency services members as some areas struggle to find the volunteer or paid on-call firefighters commonly used by suburban councils.

The Star Tribune notes that police in Blaine and New Brighton also have fire responsibilities, while other cities have had to take on full-time firefighters to fill the shortfall.

In Woodbury meanwhile, the city's police, fire and paramedics departments were integrated as far back as 2005, according to city documents, with police officers cross-trained as either firefighters or paramedics.

Fire controversy

Lino Lakes City Council has been on the lookout for a solution since it decided to withdraw from the Centennial Lakes Fire District last December, which was a collaboration with nearby Centerville and Circle Pines.

The decision proved controversial, according to the Pioneer Press, with a lawsuit against the council submitted by citizens and firefighters in an attempt to give residents a say over the decision.

But in August this year, a judge ruled that the council had the right to make the decision to withdraw from the Centennial district, saying it was an "administrative decision," KSTP reports.

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