Northfield Area Fire & Rescue Service has received more than 20 applications to fill four open firefighter positions.

“We’re really happy about that, because typically as a rule, volunteerism is dwindling, the involvement of the people … their need and want to serve the city and the community, so we really feel fortunate,” said Northfield Fire Chief Gerry Franek. “We are really lucky.”

The hires are made necessary after Northfield firefighters Bob Sabyan and Mark Etzell went on leave out-of-state. Fellow firefighters Corey Stadler and Brian Imes retired.

“We don’t want to be short,” Franek said.

Tthe department is considered fully staffed at approximately 32 to 35 employees. Although there are currently 31, she noted the employee losses as reasons for the hires. She added the number of applications received this go-around is higher than the normal.

“You’d hope that a wider pool of applicants means that the department will be able to pick from high-level talent,” Davis said.

The last day for applications to be submitted was Thursday. The Northfield Area Fire and Rescue Service Board hopes the new hires are in place by Aug. 1.

The positions were posted to the NAFRS website April 12 following approval by its board.

“It looks like we have a relatively diverse application pool, so that’s great,” said Leah Davis with the fire service’s auditing firm.

Over the next six weeks, potential firefighters will undergo cognitive testing based on standards they would need to meet in the position.

Initial offers are for one-year terms. At the end of the year, a decision will be made about whether to offer each a permanent position.

The names of the candidates are not available. On-call rates are around $21 per hour, with a different pay scale for meeting and training time. Northfield firefighters also receive an annual pension of $10,000, the highest in the state.

Davis said she hopes the number of applications shows the department has a good reputation in the community and that the community members like serving their neighbors.

Northfield Area Fire & Rescue responds to about 260-280 fire calls each year, as well as a couple hundred rescue calls. The minimum percentage of calls an active employee must respond to is considered 30 percent, with the average from 40 to 60 percent.

Reach Associate Editor Sam Wilmes at 507-645-1115.

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