LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Bemidji needs equipment, facilities and services to meet its current and future needs

The following is a letter to the editor submitted by a reader and does not reflect the views of the Pioneer. Letters can be sent to or P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.


Congratulations and thank you to reporter Nicole Ronchetti and photographer Annalise Braught for their excellent presentation of the challenges facing the Bemidji Fire Department in the Feb. 25 edition of the Pioneer.

The photos and text provide an easy read and comprehensive overview of the problems which Bemidji constituents must contemplate when casting ballots.

Part of me says, “What?! That excellent structure ought to stand forever!"

A little history: I was a new member of the BFD and one of the last occupants of the firefighters' quarters in the stucco-covered wood-framed old city hall in 1971.

I recall proudly such calls as the not-infrequent 2 a.m. alarm gong which awoke me in the second-floor dormitory. I jumped from bed into my clothes, rubber fire coat and boots, slid down the brass pole and jumped onto the tailboard of Engine No. 1, a 1957 International 750 gallon per minute pumper, as we headed out the very narrow door to the fire.


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I've not enjoyed a greater calling. This civic contribution to serve a wonderful city has been one of my life's highlights. Oh yes, there was the $2 pay per call as an added incentive.

Bemidji city and area residents need and deserve 21st-century equipment, facilities and services to meet the needs of today and the many tomorrows we can neither foresee nor predict.

During my career, I served as Beltrami County Auditor, then as an administrator for three Minnesota counties and one city, Brainerd. The either inherent or conjured-up reasons to take no action on such a significant issue as the fire station offer a smokescreen for those who are, or will become, opponents to the yet-to-be-determined plan.

Please, get full information. With the Chief's permission and an escort, tour the current facility. Talk to the firefighters who have adjusted to present circumstances so that you may hear their concerns and, in some cases, fears.

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Fighting fire is not for the faint of heart. Responding to horrific vehicle accident scenes is literally gut-wrenching.

I ask that citizens measure the worth and value of answers to their current challenges not based solely on issues of financial cost and taxes.


On more than one occasion during my 10 years as a Bemidji volunteer firefighter, the owners and residents of the community literally or figuratively hugged me in thanks for what we saved.

I hugged them in recognition that while we couldn't save more of their building, we gave it our best because the voters had said, “do it right.”

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