More than 800 firefighters are arriving in Minot tonight for the largest training event in the region.
The 60th annual state fire school attracts firefighters from all over North Dakota --- and beyond state borders.
Director Rob Knuth says the long-established event hosts 47 classes and it is one of the only training schools that can be completed mostly indoors.
Knuth says volunteer retention is the number one challenge facing departments across the state.
He says junior firefighter programs through area high schools are helping to recruit the younger generation.
He says Minot Rural Fire Department responded to nearly 200 fire calls last year.
(Rob Knuth, ND Fire School Training Director) "Asking someone to be able to leave their family or their work at a moment's notice when the pager goes off is hard enough. Now asking them to also dedicate up to 120 hours of training is almost impossible. So what we try to do during fire school is offer those classes in a short amount of time so they can fulfill some of those requirements."
North Dakota Fire Association has renewed the contract with the State Fair Center --- the state fire school will continue to be held in Minot through 2020.