The early history of the Minot Fire Department is quite vague due to lack of records. Some of the early dates may not be exact, but they are all very close. Much of the early information comes from the very good memories of past chiefs Gil Malek and Claude Metz.
The City of Minot’s first fire company was organized Sept. 13, 1895. It is unknown where the fire wagon was housed at the beginning. It was a volunteer company with firefighters paid by the call. The team of horses that pulled the wagon was also paid. Competition was very serious. If you got your horses there first to pull the wagon, then you got the pay!
In 1905, City Hall was built in the 100 block of First Avenue Southwest. The Fire Department responded from this location for more than 50 years.
The first records start to show up in 1908. By then the Fire Department had its own fire horses and two paid people. The two paid people included the Fire Chief and the Driver. The Chief was paid $30 per month and the driver was paid $75 per month. The Chief worked normal hours, but the driver lived with and cared for these horses 24 hours a day. The fuel bill was about $20 per month: $5 for hay, plus $15 for feed.
The year 1913 was an important one to the Minot Fire Department. A call went out for bids for a motor driven fire apparatus on May 26, 1913. On July 14, 1913, the City Council moved that Minot order, “1 motor propelled, 6 cylinder, water cooled, combination hose and chemical wagon with Goodyear hard rubber tires from the Seagraves Company.” This truck was delivered to Minot on Nov. 15, 1913, at a cost of $5,640.12, plus $212.88 for freight to the Soo Line Railroad. Then on Thanksgiving Day in 1913, the horses were retired from the fire department.
In 1927, the number of paid personnel went from 4 to 5 with the addition of another firefighter. In 1931, the Minot Fire Department became a fully paid department.
In 1942, horses were used again for a short while. The snow was too deep for the trucks to maneuver, so horses were rented and a sleigh was outfitted as a fire wagon.
On Jan. 28, 1957, the Fire Department moved into new quarters, leaving the First Avenue location that had housed the department for 52 years and moving into the new station on the corner of 6th Street and 2nd Avenue. In 2001, the headquarters station was moved to 2111 10th Street Southwest to improve response times to rapidly growing south Minot.
In 1958, the firefighter’s hours were cut from 72 hours per week to 63 hours per week.
On Jan. 11, 1965, the department opened its first substation, named Station 2. This station is located at 3rd Street and 2nd Avenue Southeast.
On Nov. 1, 1980, the department opened its second substation named Station 3, at the Minot International Airport.
Following the terrorist events of Sept. 11, 2001, the country began preparations to respond to these types of incidents. In 2002, the department began receiving funding for equipment to do regional response for northwest North Dakota for hazardous materials incidents. This grew to include collapse rescue in 2004. The department continues to provide regional response to northwest North Dakota today.
On March 6, 2016, the department opened its third substation named Station 4 at 1505 55th Street Southeast and added 12 personnel. The department currently has 60 firefighters working a 56-hour work week and 8 personnel working day hours to staff administration, inspection, and training offices.
In January 2016, the department hired Kelli Kronschnabel, its first female fire chief. Past chiefs of the department include:
Prior to 1946: Chief Claude Metz
1946 to 1973: Chief Gilbert Malek
1973 to 1981: Chief Arthur Klimpel
1981 to 1998: Chief Duwayne Ward
1998 to 2007: Chief Harold Haugstad
2007 to 2016: Chief CJ Craven