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Firefighter of the Year: He’s not an average guy

Farmington firefighter and rescue squad member Mark Arens, right, was named Firefighter of the Year during the fire department’s Jan. 17 annual banquet. Arens is pictured with chief Tim Pietsch.

Farmington firefighter Mark Arens says he’s just “an average guy.” But his colleagues on the Farmington Fire Department beg to differ.

To the membership of the Farmington Fire Department, Arens’ commitment to helping others in crisis is far above average, and that’s why Arens has been named Farmington firefighter of the Year for 2013.

Arens doesn’t really know what, exactly, drew him to becoming a firefighter. For that matter, he’s not really sure what prompted him to become a paramedic, either.

“It’s just how I am, I guess,” he said. “That’s just the way I’m put together. The job fits me. It’s natural, and I enjoy doing what I do.”

He’s been a firefighter for about 15 years, eight of which were spent on a fulltime crew in another community. A few years back, he stepped back from being a fulltime firefighter so he could take a new position as a fulltime paramedic and field training officer for Allina Ambulance.

He joined Farmington’s fire department about four years ago. Now, he’s able to be both a paramedic and a firefighter. Since Allina Ambulance covers Farmington, he’s often scheduled for work right at one of the local fire stations.

Arens is a fire lieutenant and member of the rescue squad from Station 2. He’s also treasurer for the Farmington Fire Relief Association.

“Mark is one of those guys who always has a smile on his face, and you know he loves what he’s doing,” Farmington fire chief Tim Pietsch said. “He’s very active around the fire station. He’s one of those guys you don’t have to ask to do anything. If something needs doing, he knows it, and he’ll just do it.”

Arens spends a few hours a week at Station 2. He’s usually there two or three days a week, working on paperwork for the relief association, or helping with any projects that come up at the station.

And, of course, he makes as many fire and rescue calls as he can.

“When my pager goes off, I just show up and do what I have to do,” he said.

Arens was surprised when his name was announced as Firefighter of the Year during the Jan. 17 Farmington Fire Department annual banquet. There are others, he said, who have made 100 percent of the training sessions, or who do maintenance on the trucks or put classes together. All of those members, he said, are just as deserving of the award.

“That’s the thing about Mark,” Pietsch said. “He doesn’t want any fanfare. He doesn’t want to be in the limelight.

“But he’s got a way with people. He’s got a calming effect on people on a call, with both the patient and everybody who is there. He really knows how to treat people, and treat them right. It’s a gift, and he uses it well.”

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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