Celebrating 150 years

   Greetings Minnesota firefighters and families! Summer is winding down as I write this. The state fair is done and students are back to school or college. In my area because of the drought, the corn is drying up early and farmers are chopping silage- filling silos and bags. Lots of canning and freezing of garden produce is occurring. Hints of color other than green are appearing on trees. Soon the various hunting seasons will be here. I’m enjoying the cool mornings and pleasant afternoons.

   The MSFDA is celebrating 150 years of existence this year, our sesquicentennial. The fire service has undergone many changes since 1873: technology went from bucket brigades, horse drawn hand and steam pumps, open cab vehicles to today’s apparatus designed with the latest comfort and safety features; firefighters entering a burning building bareheaded and with the clothes on their backs to various ways to filter or avoid the smoke and heat to today’s SCBAs and turnout gear; individuals trained in only fighting fires to firefighters trained to respond to a wide spectrum of emergencies.   

   One of the biggest changes I feel has occurred is in regards to firefighter health and well-being. It wasn’t all that long ago “The Big Three”- firefighter cancer, mental health and cardiac disease- finally received serious attention and research. Before, it seemed active and retired firefighters dying from “The Big Three” was just a given, a cost to bear. Today there is more of an emphasis on prevention and resources to help our brothers and sisters survive, overcome and thrive. 

   Being the history guy I am, I was curious to see what was going on in the US in 1873: President Ulysses Grant began his second term; Remington & Sons began producing the first practical typewriter; The Coinage Act of 1873 placed the US on the gold standard; barbed wire was shown at a county fair in Illinois, Joseph Glidden and Jacob Haisch invented a machine to mass produce it; Levi Strauss & Co began manufacturing jeans; The Preakness Stakes was run in Baltimore for the first time; the James-Younger Gang pull off the first successful train robbery and scored about $3,000 ($76,000 in today’s dollars); the NY stock market crashed beginning the Panic of 1873; P. T. Barnum’s Greatest Show on Earth Circus debuted; Coors began brewing beer in Golden, CO; and Central Park in New York City was completed. 

   Closer to home in Minnesota in 1873: a January blizzard struck claiming up to 90 souls, Brainerd was organized as a city, the University of MN graduated its first students after closing for the Civil War; and the great grasshopper plague began- for five growing seasons, swarms of grasshoppers destroyed thousands of acres of crops across Minnesota leaving many farm families destitute. 

   The MSFDA Annual Conference and Fire School is being held at beautiful Breezy Point Resort this year. It promises to be a biggie with the organization noting 150 years of our mission to all Minnesota firefighters- The Minnesota State Fire Department Association will initiate and maintain an active participation in all aspects of the fire service including training, education, fire prevention, scholarships, law and legislative action, service and special awards, and benefits for its members. 

   Take care, stay safe and hope to see many of you in Breezy Point!

Dave Yurczyk,

MSFDA President




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