Friday, April 19, 2024

Small Cities: Apply Now for a Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant

Guest post by LMCIT Public Safety Specialist Troy Walsh

Two firefighters with one in the foreground operating a water hose.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has opened the latest round of applications for the Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) Grant Program.

The VFA Grant Program is a matching grant program that provides financial and technical assistance to Minnesota fire departments that protect cities or communities with a population under 10,000. 

Approximately 150 to 175 grants from $1,000 to $5,000 are awarded annually. The grants are made on a 50/50 match basis. Fire departments must use the grant money for fire protection and comply with existing state and county rural fire protection plans. 

To learn more about the VFA Grant Program and how to apply, download the 2025 VFA Grant Application or visit the DNR's Rural Fire Department Assistance webpage.

The grant application deadline is July 1. The end of this grant period is June 2025.

Headshot of Troy Walsh.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at or (651) 281-1231. 

Remember:   Responder Safety = Public Safety

In the meantime, stay safe!


Thursday, February 29, 2024

Minnesota POST Board Adopts New Pursuit Model Policy

Police car with lights flashing at night.
Police pursuits in Minnesota and nationwide have continued to capture attention due to the rising number of pursuits, resulting accidents and injuries, and the questionable need. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) compiles a statistical uniform crime report each year detailing the amount of criminal activity, including police pursuits, in the state. According to the most recent report published in September 2023, there were 2,768 agency-initiated pursuits and 388 agency-assisted pursuits, for a total of 3,156 pursuits in 2022. This is a 315% increase over 2012, when police engaged in a total of 759 pursuits.

Minn. Stat. § 626.5532 Subd. 1 requires Minnesota law enforcement agencies to report instances where a peace officer pursues a fleeing subject in a motor vehicle being operated in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.487. This data must be reported on the pursuit reporting form to the commissioner of public safety within 30 days of the incident.

Updated Model Policy Available on POST Board Website

Law enforcement in the United States is experiencing immense change through various police reform practices and policies. Correspondingly, it is important to learn the legal concepts related to police pursuits and emergency vehicle operations of police vehicles. The League of Minnesota Cities has a model policy that covers emergency vehicle operation, and the Minnesota POST Board, per Minn. Stat. § 626.8458, approved an updated vehicle pursuits model policy on Jan. 25, 2024. The Minnesota POST Board requires all law enforcement agencies to update and align their vehicle pursuit and emergency vehicles operation policy with the model policy and to “adopt, implement, and enforce” the required policy per Minnesota Administrative Rule 6700.1615, Subd. 1(A).

Per Subp. 2 of this new administrative rule, the chief law enforcement officer must ensure the current version of each required policy is:

  • Posted on the agency’s website (or in a public area of the physical premises for agencies without a website)
  • Provided upon request to an individual or organization
  • Provided to each peace officer employed by the agency
  • Reviewed at least annually with each officer
  • Enforced at all levels of the agency; and
  • Violations of a required policy are reported to the POST Board

Due to the new administrative rule and current statutory requirements, along with the potential legal liabilities of police pursuits, a law enforcement agency should consult with their legal advisor or city attorney before adopting any required policies, including the newly updated vehicle pursuit and emergency operations policy. Your agency should consult with your legal advisor to ensure that the updated policy includes the “identical or substantially similar” provisions of the board’s model policy, although your agency may incorporate additional agency-specific requirements or more stringent requirements to ensure the policy focuses on the safety of all involved, includes qualifying language specific to your agency, and appropriately identifies and describes any ministerial and discretionary duties and acts so that your officers are provided the protections under the law and your agency respects the sanctity of life when making decisions regarding vehicle pursuits.   

Benchmark Analytics Research Study

The League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) recently completed the second year of a research study that utilizes predictive analysis to identify key risk factors facing Trust member law enforcement agencies and to provide evidence-based recommendations for approaches most likely to address these risks. 

Two of the identified evidence-based practices focused on how an agency manages emergency call response and police pursuits. The research shows a strong correlation to a reduction in liability claims for agencies that have an emergency vehicle operations policy for responding to incidents such as medicals, crimes in progress, and fire calls. Additionally, the research shows a strong correlation to both a reduction in liability claims and workers’ compensation claims for agencies that adopted a restrictive vehicle pursuit policy.  

The League Has Resources and Training to Help

The League has resources to assist you with your policy development for police pursuits and emergency vehicle operations (these resources supplement the model policy provided by the Minnesota POST Board): 

The League and our partners at Benchmark Analytics will share additional findings of the multi-year research analysis with LMCIT member agencies at the upcoming 2024 Loss Control Workshops held at nine locations across the state this spring. Learn how top-performing agencies reduce incidents, officer injuries, and staff turnover and how your agency could significantly reduce your injury and liability claims.  

If you have any specific comments or questions or any difficulty obtaining the resources mentioned above, you may contact me at or (651) 215-4051. 

Remember: Responder Safety = Public Safety

In the meantime, stay safe!    


Tuesday, February 20, 2024

A Reminder to Sleep Like Lives Depend on It

Guest post by Lora Setter, LMCIT public safety program coordinator

Man wearing a sleep mask lying on his back in bed.

I previously wrote about when my flight from Hartford, Conn. to Minneapolis was canceled. The pilots ran out of time. For pilots, running out of time means they’ve reached their 10-hour fly time limit. When two pilots are flying together, they can fly up to 10 hours. If flying solo, they are grounded at eight hours. Pilots’ hours are restricted because their job affects the safety of others. They need to be well-rested to safely perform their job duties, as people’s lives depend on them. 

Check In On Your Sleep Habits During Sleep Awareness Week

As National Sleep Awareness Week approaches this March, I am reminded why it’s important that public safety professionals – like pilots – get a chance to sleep and reset the clock each day: lives depend on it, both their own lives and the people served in our communities. 

Many public safety departments routinely schedule their personnel for 10- and 12-hour shifts. Personnel are allowed to work up to 16 hours before they run out of time. This is twice the number of hours that a solo pilot is allowed to work. Organizations use these extended shifts because they provide economic benefit, as more hours can be covered with fewer people. Many line-level people muscle through long shifts because they know at the end of their work cycle, they’ll enjoy a longer stretch of time off. When it comes to volunteer public safety services, there’s often no telling when the clock starts running. They respond when duty calls, often after or during their other responsibilities, like working full-time or providing childcare. This could mean showing up well-rested after a relaxing weekend or being jolted awake in the middle of the night after a hard day. 

Getting enough sleep is integral to maintaining positive mental health. Being fatigued creates opportunities for traumatic brain injuries, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as other risks such as heart disease, cancer, depression, anxiety, etc. 

Tips for Better Sleep

We recognize that it’s important, but getting good sleep is easier said than done – especially after a hard shift and if daytime is your bedtime. Here are a few helpful tips for getting straight to sleep, sunup or sundown.

  1. Finger selecting the "Do Not Disturb" function on a cell phone.
    Avoid caffeine three to four hours before you plan to sleep.
  2. Don’t drive drowsy. If you need to, take a 15-minute power nap before heading home. 
  3. If the sun is up, wear sunglasses on your commute to start winding down and prep for sleep.
  4. As tempting as it might be to stay awake, go to bed as soon as you get home. 
  5. Sunup or down, establish and stick to a bedtime routine to help put you in the mood for sleep. 
  6. Put your phone in “Do Not Disturb” mode to avoid being distracted by texts, calls and emails.
  7. Make your bedroom as dark as possible. You can wear an eye mask, turn on a white noise machine and keep the room cool to make sleep even more appealing. 
  8. Let roommates or household members know that loud activities are off-limits during your strict sleeping hours. Wearing earplugs can also help drown out noise and promote a restful sleep.

Everyone Needs Rest

It’s important to remember that first responders aren’t super-human, they have the same biological needs for sleep as pilots and everyone else. With the work they do and the traumas they experience, it’s important that police officers and firefighters aren’t held in the trenches too long, for their own health and because lives depend on them.