Firefighter I & II training returns to Cook County this winter
Rhonda Silence

Firefighter I & II training returns to Cook County this winter

Next month, individuals interested in joining and volunteering with one of the numerous fire departments in Cook County can enroll in firefighter I & II training.

After a temporary hiatus of offering the class in-person in Cook County due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many local fire departments are thrilled to see the return of the in-person entry-level training.

The training is a four-month process that will be held on Monday and Tuesday evenings beginning in Jan. The firefighter I & II training requires individuals to complete 140 hours.

“It’s only a couple days a week, which in the grand scheme of things is nice,” Ben Silence, the Grand Marais Fire Department’s fire chief, said. “All of our volunteer fire departments in Cook County are always looking for more firefighters.”

In addition to the Monday and Tuesday evening training, Silence said there will be a couple of full-day sessions on Saturdays towards the end of the four-month training to “tie it all together.”

2023 was another busy year for all of the Cook County fire departments. Silence said the Gunflint Trail Fire Department had a record year with attending to fires and medical calls, and it was “Pretty much the same throughout most of the county.”

Stephanie Radloff, a volunteer with the Maple Hill Fire Department, said fortunately, the fire departments work together to assist on calls if needed. “With all the recent fires we’ve had in 2023, it’s been awesome because we’re always there to back each other up.”

Radloff said she joined the Maple Hill Fire Department because she “wanted to get involved locally in volunteering for an organization.” She added, “I like also the camaraderie, the giving back to the community, and just being there. It’s a lot of fun.”

Silence said he signed up to be a volunteer when he was 18. “It’s something that I wanted to do when I was in high school.” He added, “Like Steph said, it’s quite fun. It’s kind of an important thing. And it’s nice to give back and help out when people are having their worst day.”

In addition to the firefighter I & II training, there is an opportunity in Jan. for individuals to complete a 16-hour emergency medical responder (EMR) refresher course at North Shore Health. The course fulfills the EMSRB requirement to renew as an EMR in Minnesota. The American Heart Association BLS/CPR certification is included in the course. Nationally registered EMRs are required to renew their certification every two years. The course will be held Jan. 13 and 14 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

To learn more about the firefighter I & II training, contact Ben Silence, the Grand Marais fire chief, or your district’s fire chief.

WTIP’s Kalli Hawkins spoke with Ben Silence, the Grand Marais Fire Chief, and Stephanie Radloff, with the Maple Hill Fire Department, about the upcoming training opportunity. Audio from the interview is below.