Outgoing Brooklyn Park Fire Chief Pushes for Modernizing Firehouses
Brooklyn Park’s outgoing fire chief is making a final plea for an investment into modernizing the city’s four fire stations.
Fire Chief T. John Cunningham believes the city’s aging fire houses are in need of revamping now that the department is fully staffed with firefighters working 24-hour shifts.
“Our firehouses were constructed back in a time when we had a volunteer and on-call workforce… mostly working from home,” stated Cunningham. “We had some living accommodations, but [it was] never designed for full-time staff.”
Cunningham plans to bring Brooklyn Park’s new city council members on a tour of Burnsville’s state-of-the-art fire station.
Brooklyn Park has a bonding request in at the state to lessen the proposed $40 million cost on taxpayers.
“It might seem like a large price tag, but when you factor in the modern day accommodations and long-term viability and sustainability of the station, it’s an investment that we’re not only making today, but long into the future,” explained Cunningham.
The current plan is to construct a new Central Fire Station and remodel or rebuild the remaining three stations over a ten-year period.
In mid-March, Cunningham will leave his post as fire chief to begin a new role as the assistant commissioner for the Department of Public Safety.
For the past five years, Cunningham led Brooklyn Park’s fire department and is grateful for its culture of acceptance and inclusion.
Fire Chief Praises Department For Its Inclusivity
“When I joined Brooklyn Park, it was as much of me joining as it was my husband, and everyone has been just so incredibly welcoming,” said Cunningham. “Being a gay male in a profession that’s predominantly a white male and very straight work environment is breaking down some barriers.”
According to Cunningham, anyone can be a firefighter as long as they are passionate about serving the community.
“You can be male, female, non-binary, straight, bisexual, gay, or any cultural upbringing,” stated Cunningham. “If you want to be a positive role model and serve your community, this is the best job.”