Archived Story

Council to look at fire department staffing

Published 9:56am Monday, November 14, 2011

Should there be changes to Albert Lea’s fire department?

That’s the question city leaders are hoping an outside consultant firm can answer through a six- to seven-month review of the department.

City Manager Chad Adams said the report would discuss whether there should be any changes in staffing for the department.

It will also look at what should be done with the existing fire station and how the leadership for the department should be organized.

The Albert Lea City Council tonight is slated to vote whether to approve sending out a request for proposals for consultant services for the project. The deadline for receiving proposals would be Dec. 21, with the selection of the consultant by early January. The consultant’s report would be completed in May or June.

The process will involve talking with existing firefighters and leadership, along with past community fire leaders, city staff, Mayo Clinic Health Systems staff, the mayor and City Council, the community and neighboring fire jurisdictions.

Costs for the review are slated to be paid with fire interest earnings.

According to information provided by Adams, the Albert Lea Fire Department was first organized in 1879, with the first fire station at the corner of Main Street and Washington Avenue.

The department moved to North Broadway Avenue in 1903 and then to its current location at 221 E. Clark St. in 1968.

The fire department provides fire, rescue and inspection services.

The department is a full-time paid fire department, with a paid on-call contract with Albert Lea Township.

Full-time staffing includes an interim fire chief, four fire captains, three lieutenants and seven firefighters.

One of the fire captains serves as the city’s emergency management and minimum housing inspector. Two temporary full-time firefighters are also serving the department and are expected to serve another six to nine months until the study is completed.

The city and township also employ 17 paid on-call firefighters from the Albert Lea area.

Firefighters also clean City Hall and provide rental housing inspections.

Interim Fire Chief Dwaine Winkels said firefighters have been under a lot of stress in the last couple years as rumors about the future of the department have been coming forward.

“At least it’s moving forward,” he said. “That’s been the biggest hurdle — having this looming over their heads for the last couple years.”

  1. Lee Bangert

    The Fire Dept, outside of doing the above stated provisions, also look out for senior citizens in a wonderful way. If called, they will check all your fire detectors, extinguishers, carbon monoxide detectors, replace them if necessary (to include batteries); keep a list of seniors who call in every a.m. to let the Fire Dept. know they’re all right; if they don’t call in by a certain time, the Fire Dept will try to contact them and, if necessary, go to their home to check up on them. If asked, will help with various tasks a senior may have to include moving a couch outside for the garbage people to pick up; get animals down from a tree and lord knows what else they’ll help with. They’re an absolute great bunch of fellows, always courteous, gracious and friendly as all get out. The Fire Dept is such a very important part of the community and needed in so many ways. Hopefully, the Fire Dept won’t be cut in any manner, shape or form. They are a living part of our community.