Chief David Brosnahan has been the head of Roseville Fire since June, 2021. We caught up with him to talk about his favorite part of being a fire fighter, and why you [probably] won’t see him in a bouncy house any time soon.
What made you want to become a firefighter?
Chief Brosnahan: I started with the Roseville fire department back in 2003 as a paid on-call firefighter. I was a sophomore in college at Hamline University and actually at the time, I wanted to be a journalist. I wanted to be the next Don Shelby. You know, high aspirations. My dad was a volunteer firefighter in a very small town in Southern Minnesota. I saw that Roseville was looking for paid on-call firefighters. I thought, “You know what, that’d be kind of a cool part-time job.” I never thought of it as a career. But I got into it, and two weeks through the training I said, “this is what I want to do, this is it!” It was a calling. And so, I’ve been committed to it ever since. And then in 2006, I took a full-time promotion here at Roseville, a position called the shift commander. It’s been history ever since.
You started as fire chief, nine months ago, after Chief Tim O'Neil retired. How is it going?
Chief Brosnahan: So far, so good, I am really enjoying it. One of the best parts was getting to build out my leadership team. Developing them and bringing them on board has been a great experience.
Dealing with record level call volumes and how we maintain and tread through those waters is something we’re going to be working on this year. [We’ll also be looking at] how we make our response plan meet the needs of the community in the best way possible while also being ready for the day-to-day things that might happen.
Roseville Fire: More Than Just Fire
What's been the most exciting thing that you've taken on so far?
Chief Brosnahan: One of the most exciting things that we've been able to do is mostly the continuation of some of our programs. With the different spikes of COVID, we were unsure if we were going to be able to do it, but we were able to do some summer events and programs and outreach programs like our 'Fridays with Firefighters' this summer. So it was fantastic to get several hundred people back in here to celebrate and do some of those events.
What was that like, that first time getting people back together?
Chief Brosnahan: That first time was awesome because it was complete controlled chaos, to be honest with you! We had several hundred people here and it was kids and parents, they were just on the trucks and they were doing different things, spraying water, and it was a ton of fun.
Why is that so important?
Chief Brosnahan: I'm very passionate about trying to make an impact in our community. That could be something that may sound simple for us, but profound for others. Something as simple as putting out Every Meal food in our front vestibule or our front foyer. Things like bringing kids in here to do a quick birthday party tour of our fire station. Those are impacts on people that maybe don't always see or maybe we underestimate, but they make a big difference in the community.
What's the best thing about being a part of the City of Roseville fire department?
Chief Brosnahan: It's the team atmosphere. We have fantastic people, both our part-time people and our full-time staff do a great job. They've truly become subject matter experts in their fields and what they do. They're passionate about learning. They're great with the community. And so just being a part of that, that daily feel and harnessing that atmosphere, creates a great culture in the department. And so we feel that we need to continue that through training and through our outreach and through different development programs together.
I like what you say—that Roseville Fire is more than “just fire.” Can you talk a little bit about some of the things that people might not know that you all do and can help out with?
Chief Brosnahan: Absolutely. We have a lot of different programs besides just fire suppression. Our emergency medical services is a significant part of our business that we do here. We do about 75%-80% of our total call volume, of more than 6,000 calls is emergency medical related. And that is why we're having a big push to develop advanced life support, paramedic skills. So they can provide a higher level of emergency care to the person that needs it the most right away in that three to four minutes that we arrive on scene.
The other piece that we do a lot of is outreach. We do community CPR training… Sometimes we travel to different facilities in our community to provide that training as well. We do different programs like 'Remembering When'. That’s a fall and fire prevention program that we do for seniors to help them prevent falls in their homes and prevent fires in their home. Those community outreach programs are what's huge for us to be a part of, that goes beyond just being a fire department.
I hear you had a Bouncy House for Fridays with Firefighters last Summer. Are you a “join the bouncy house” or “watch the bouncy house” person?
Chief Brosnahan: I watch the bouncy house, although this past summer we also did the dunk tank and my assistant fire chief did the dunk tank, which was fantastic. You know, we put him in there many, many times. The bouncy house, I don't because it gets pretty wild in there! I'd probably have like a first report of injury or something if I went through in there, and came out and I'd be all banged up. But so no, I don't do that, but I enjoy watching it.
On the Horizon for 2022
So what is something that you hope for, for 2022?
Chief Brosnahan: We have a lot of lofty aspirations and goals for 2022, which I'm really excited about because we have some great staff to help support those programs. One of our number one items that I've talked about a little bit is advanced life support, first response. That's a big piece that we want to try to roll out sometime mid-year in 2022.
What goes into the advanced life support training?
Chief Brosnahan: So there's some pretty significant steps. Advanced Life Support training will allow us to carry cardiac monitors, some advanced medications as well. So we’d be able to offer first rounds of medications with a cardiac arrest, for instance, if somebody's having a significant cardiac event, like a heart attack or a significant diabetic emergency. We can provide some of those medications or potentially procedures to help alleviate that issue as much as possible.
Another big piece [I’m excited about] is a fire cadet program. We've never had this before, but this is a program to try and recruit underrepresented and non-traditional people into the fire service. We now have the dollars to fill at least one position but I'd like to do two throughout this year.
COR: Why is that cadet program so important?
Chief Brosnahan: I can’t wait for that program because I am excited to bring somebody in to hopefully give them the tools that they need. The whole goal behind the program is to get them the training, and get them some professional experience. I would love to have them on board [as a full-time employee], but if we don't have an opportunity for them and they go to another opportunity at St. Paul or Brooklyn Park or somewhere else, that is also wonderful. Then we made an impact on that person. We helped that person get into that position or that dream job that they wanted to. And then we'll start over.
Is this a dream job?
Chief Brosnahan: This is a dream job! You know, I do miss some of the actual firefighting and going out on all the calls. The city needs me to function in a different role. And so I need to transition and adapt to that role as well.
Is there anything else you want people to know about you or the fire department?
Chief Brosnahan: I wouldn't be able to do any of the stuff that I'm doing without the help of my command team of the firefighters. We've done a lot of different things this year, things that we didn't expect. We made some goals of different projects and programs, but we also found new surprises like COVID testing. City-wide COVID testing is what we did for all city employees and their immediate family members. That's something that my assistant fire chief came up with. He did all the background work and the purchasing and the coordination of the project. But it's just a perfect example of sometimes goals or new projects just kind of fall out of the sky or fall in your lap.