Minneapolis has graduated its first class of new firefighters in five years. The nine cadets took their oath this morning after completing a four-month training program.
“It’s an exciting time for me,” Fire Chief John Fruetel said. “We’ve waited a long time. And so we’re looking forward to growing the department back, hopefully put some new life and some new young firefighters on the Fire Department.”
The department’s hiring freeze was brought on by a series of difficult budgets. Even with the new recruits, Minneapolis still has about 70 fewer firefighters than it did in 2001.
Fruetel says the new recruits will help make up for the retirements the department has experienced this year — a trend he expects to continue. Up to 40 percent of Minneapolis firefighters could retire over the next five years.
The city will start training another class of 15 cadets in June.