To provide French Township and its surrounding contract areas with a well-trained organization to prevent or safely minimize losses to life and property from fire and other emergencies, at the highest level with the resources available.
As of August 2009, the department had 26 members: 21 firefighters, 5 EMS, and 7 who do both. The oldest member is 64, the youngest 20; average age is 41.
Since 1979, when good record-keeping began, firefighters have responded to 319 calls. There have been 111 structure fires, but other incidents have included vehicle fires, wildland fires, car accidents, downed power lines, snowmobile mishaps, searches, boating accidents, and carbon monoxide alarms. The EMS branch was organized in 1992, and has responded to over 500 medical calls.
In addition to the 36 square miles of French Township, the department also has primary responsibility for 6 square miles of South Bearville Township and 1 square mile of Unorganized Township 59-22 (both in Itasca County), and 1 square mile of Unorganized Township 59-21 in St. Louis County, for a total of 44 square miles. EMS coverage extends to all of 59-21 in conjunction with Chisholm Ambulance. Additionally, the department has mutual aid agreements with Bearville, Evergreen, Chisholm, Kinney-Great Scott, and Greaney-Rauch-Silverdale fire departments. Equipment agreements for wildland fire are also in place with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry and the US Forest Service.
The department maintains 4 emergency vehicles: one pumper, one pumper/tender, one water tender and a rescue van. In addition to portable pumps, a rescue sled, some basic extrication tools, and a defibrillator, the department also has four cold water/ice rescue suits and a small rubber raft, with the requisite rope and other accessories. The new fire hall was completed and occupied in 1989, featuring sub-slab electrical heat and 3000 gallons of overhead water storage. In 1992, in cooperation with the DNR, the department developed a Major Incident Action Plan to deal with a large fire or other complex disaster. The plan has served as a template for agencies in other parts of Minnesota, and received recognition on the national level.
Fire Chief: Dustin Nelson
Assistant Fire Chief: P.J. Bjur
EMS unit president: Liz Krhin
Mailing address of the department: Box 41, Side Lake, MN 55781