Local dealership answers the call [UPDATED]Published 11:03am Friday, September 13, 2013 Updated 7:52pm Wednesday, October 9, 2013
If he is on the sales floor at Minnesota Motor and the pager goes off, Matt Ness has to leave.
If he is sitting down to dinner with his family and the pager goes off, he has to leave.
If it is his daughter’s birthday and training is scheduled, which happened this year, he has to leave.
Such is the life of a volunteer firefighter.
“There’s Christmases that I’ve gotten called out,” Ness said. “If anybody tells you it’s not an inconvenience, it is. But it’s something that we love to do.”
Ness has been able to serve as a volunteer firefighter for the past seven years in part because of the flexibility of his employers at Minnesota Motor. Ness said there will be weeks where he does not get called out to a scene by the department, but there can also be several calls in any given day.
Minnesota Motor General Manager Matt Brimhall said it has long been a part of the company’s history to allow employees to serve on the fire department, dating back to when his great-grandfather opened the dealership in 1922.
“We’ve always said any time one of our wanted to be involved in any type of organization that we thought was a benefit to the community, we were all for it,” Brimhall said.
Ness has been working at Minnesota Motor in various capacities since 2000 and said he has a great relationship with the Brimhall family. They have been more than willing to let him answer calls during the work day and take days off for the mandatory twice-monthly firefighter training.
The biggest fire Ness has been involved in fighting was the one that spread to multiple buildings this summer. Ness said he was called out to the fire late in the night July 7 and did not get to work at Minnesota Motor until 2:30 the next afternoon. He was then called back to the fire around 5 p.m. that evening and spent several more hours at the scene.
Currently, Ness is the only employee at Minnesota Motor who works for the fire department, but there have been countless others throughout the company’s history.
The relationship between Minnesota Motor and the fire department has resulted in a new fundraising venture at the dealership. Next week, the dealership will donate $20 per test drive on new vehicles.
Brimhall said the proceeds, which will all go to the fire department, should be enough to help the department in whatever way they see fit.
“You get a thousand people to come in and it’s gonna get pretty expensive, but so be it,” Brimhall said. “I think people in the community will stand behind it.”
Through all the work and all the inopportune times the pager goes off, Ness said he and his fellow volunteers all love the work they do and do it to give back to the community, the same reason Brimhall said Minnesota Motor has maintained such a close relationship with the department.
Craig Hebert, the training officer and a captain at the fire department, said working with the fire department often benefits both the employee and the community. But it is the understanding of businesses like Minnesota Motor that allows people like Ness to invest ample time to the department.
“Every employer in town that has an employee working at the fire department, we are grateful to them,” Hebert said. “We couldn’t do it without them as far as their support.”