After 20 years with the Spring Lake Park-Blaine-Mounds View Fire Department, Rian Crooks retired Feb. 1.
Crooks, 47, worked the night shift as a volunteer firefighter out of Station One in Spring Lake Park.
Being a firefighter “always seemed like an interesting thing to do,” he said. Emergency services were the “big show” for him when he was a little boy, so he enrolled in fire training classes and reached out to the SBM Fire Department.
He started working for SBM in February 1994. He has responded to more than 2,000 calls since his first day on the job.
“Rian Crooks, in my 32 years, epitomizes the type of individual that makes this organization a success,” Chief Nyle Zikmund said. “He’s an individual who was able to balance his desire to serve his community along with meeting the needs of his family.”
Crooks is retiring to spend more time with his family. His daughter started high school this year and his son began middle school, so he wants to free up his evenings to attend their many school activities.
He continues to work for Metropolitan Council Environmental Services at the wastewater treatment plant in St. Paul.
Firefighters are required to respond to 35 percent of the calls each quarter from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. if they work the night shift. Crooks averaged more than that. He felt an “obligation,” he said.
“When people call us, it’s the worst day of their lives,” Crooks said.
Crooks had to develop tough skin so that he wouldn’t “own every tragedy.” Images from gruesome car accidents are the hardest to keep at bay, he said.
Now, without needing to stick around every night, Crooks and his family can enjoy more time at family cabins up north, he said.
But Crooks won’t disappear, as many retirees do, he said. He will serve out his term on the personnel committee for the next two-and-a-half years.
“I have great friends on the fire department and I like what I do there. It’s hard to leave,” he said.
Olivia Koester is at