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New THFD firefighter is no rookie

Dean Paron is the new face on the THFD. He brings extensive firefighting and emergency medical experience to the position and is also a fish biologist with the DNR. Photo by Ken Vogel.

Dean Paron is no stranger to fighting fires, so when a recent opportunity arose, the Two Harbors resident tossed his hat into the ring as a candidate for an open position on the Two Harbors Fire Department. He made the cut and is now the department’s newest member.

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THFD Chief Mark Schlangen said he is looking forward to having Paron on the department, adding that the THFD is now fully staffed and has a hiring pool to draw from when future vacancies occur. Although Paron is new to the city’s department, he brings extensive experience and a decades-old passion for the job.

“I think what initially got me interested in firefighting was watching a show called Emergency with my dad,” Paron told the Lake County News-Chronicle. “At that time I wanted to be a firefighter/paramedic.” The dreams of a much younger Paron have materialized over the years and he currently serves as a paramedic for Two Harbors Ambulance, in addition his new firefighting gig. He also serves on the Lake County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue squads for Finland and Two Harbors.

Paron’s commitment to public service includes several communities and a variety of roles over the years. He worked on a wild-land fire crew for the U.S. Forest service in Idaho from 1991 to 1995, and in 1997 he accepted employment with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Seattle District. While there he became a member of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Search and Rescue Task Force 1.

Memories of Minnesota called him back to the region, however, and in 2002 he accepting employment with the Department of Natural Resources as an assistant area fisheries supervisor in Hinckley where he served as a volunteer firefighter and on the Pine County Ambulance EMS. Paron said he valued the experience.

“I was a volunteer firefighter in Hinckley for 10 years and I loved it,” he said.

The allure of Lake County was the driving force in his return to Minnesota, and Paron said he now feels that he’s found his way home.

“In 1990 I was an intern with the DNR in Finland; I fell in love with the area and slowly worked my way back here,” he recalled. Now, as the area supervisor for DNR Fisheries in that northwoods community, Paron says he is fortunate to be doing what he loves.

“This is the best of both worlds for me. I get to do my job as a fish biologist and serve as a firefighter and paramedic.”

Paron said he encourages anyone who has an interest in serving as a firefighter or paramedic to follow the dream.

“It’s an experience like no other; there is a comradery and brotherhood that you will never quite experience anywhere else,” he said. As for the most recent addition to his resume —Two Harbors Fire Fighter – Paron said he’s excited.


“The THFD is a top notch department; I look forward to meeting and working with all the members,” he said.

With 2013 in the books, it appears that it was a busy year for the THFD. Its statistics indicate that it saw an increase of 10 percent in calls over the previous year.

Schlangen said that spring fire danger should be on the minds of residents and that some fire-prevention measures can be taken to reduce risk to home and property.

“As the snow is melting quickly, it’s a good time to look around the yard and see what clean up can be done to prevent wildfire damage,” he said. “It’s been a long winter and there is a lot of potential fuel that will be drying out quickly this spring.” Sources are available to help residents recognize and mitigate fire danger around their homes.

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• 580 square miles and 6800 people are served by 23 members of the THFD

• The department responded to 142 total calls (68 in Two Harbors, 74 in UT2 and Silver Creek)

• THFD tallied 2,473.5 personnel hours on emergency calls

Calls included:

17 structure fires

6 vegetation fires

5 vehicle fires

6 trash fires

21 vehicle accidents

21 fire alarms/false alarms

10 hazardous materials incidents

11 carbon monoxide detector calls

51 anding zones

25 dispatched and cancelled en route

15 service calls (downed power lines, smoke removal, emergency medical service assistance)

• 1,941 personnel hours were spent on training and practice

• Over 100 personnel hours were donated by THFD members for fire prevention education reaching approximately 400 students as well as providing fire extinguisher training to local businesses.

• Members donated time for community involvement such as Heritage Days parade, Fourth of July races, Lake County Fair and other local events.