Use sophisticated equipment and techniques to fight fires full time or “on call.” Help people in medical emergencies, and educate residents about fire safety.

Shane Heldstab headshot Shane Heldstab, firefighter, Crookston

Heldstab was named Crookston’s fire chief at the end of 2022.

Why he shows up every day: The best part of this job is interacting with children in the community. The moment they make the decision that you are a friend and that they could come to you in a scary situation, that’s probably the best moment.

I signed up to put out fires, but there’s something about knowing that a child will be comfortable with coming to me if need be that’s very satisfying. Along with that, I’m so proud to be able to give back to the community that I was raised in and that I have so much pride in.

How he got the job (and how you could, too): When I graduated high school, I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. So, I decided that I was going to take some general classes at the University of Minnesota-Crookston, and I thought that I found a field that I wanted to go into, but I found out that that profession was really not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

After that, I decided to do what so many people do — take a year off. For three years I worked full-time with the city of Crookston in the parks and recreation and public works departments, and as I went through those jobs, one of the paid on-call firefighters in Crookston was retiring and asked me if I had any interest in being a paid on-call firefighter. I talked to the fire chief and he allowed me to go through first responder and Firefighter I training.

Soon an opening came up in the on-call department, and I was fortunate enough to get that position in 2009. In 2012, a full-time position in the city opened up, and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve enjoyed every day of work I’ve had, so far.

What’s the job like? As firefighters, my colleagues and I are creating a safer environment in our city. We do that in a lot of ways, especially with community involvement, which we really pride ourselves on here in Crookston. That starts with interactions with children. We visit daycares and students in kindergarten through sixth grade once a year. We promote fire safety and let them become familiar with who we are as people. We want them to know that we’re still the same people and that we’re always there to help even when we look different with all of our firefighter gear on. We also host and participate in public events. We’re constantly preaching fire safety not only to kids, but also to adults to hopefully make our community a little bit safer from fires.

With all of our duties, we’re always just trying to keep our community safe. In order to do that, we have to constantly stay up-to-date with training techniques and new technology so that we can provide the best service possible to the community that we are responsible for.

Are you interested in learning more about a city career? One great way to get advice is to contact someone in your own city or a city nearby. You can ask questions about the job and learn more about training programs that may be available. Connect to city websites and city contact information through the League of Minnesota Cities.