MN Firefighter community losing generational firefighter, services planned

Firefighting community remembers Capt. Chris Parsons

Firefighting community remembers Capt. Chris Parsons

The Minnesota firefighting community is mourning and preparing to say goodbye to a generational firefighter.

Last week, the Saint Paul Fire Department (SPPD) shared Captain Christopher Parsons passed away. A more than 20-year member of the department, it was Parsons’ work outside the station that will have an impact for generations to come.

“[Parsons] was, by all measures, the biggest change agent in this generation of the Minnesota fire service for people’s well-being,” George Esbensen, president of the Minnesota Firefighter Initiative (MnFIRE), said.

Parsons was a founding board member of MnFIRE – the initiative prioritizes and protects the lives of firefighters.

“Chris’ gift to all of us was gravitated towards helping anybody that needed it,” Esbensen added.

According to the SPFD, Parsons “sustained a major medical event” following a shift and said his passing will be considered a line-of-duty death. The department added: Chris is incredibly well known and respected, a good friend to many and will be missed by all.

RELATED: St. Paul Firefighters announce death of Fire Captain Parsons

Parsons’ union, the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 21, said his work as an advocate was “instrumental in improving the health and safety for every firefighter in the state of Minnesota.”

From helping ban cancer-causing chemicals, making sure firefighters and their families receive financial help if hurt on the job, to protecting first responders against PTSD, those who worked close consider Parsons a Capitol champion.

“It’s incredible to have community members like Chris [Parsons],” DFL State Representative Cheryl Youakim of Hopkins said.

With Parson’s help, Youakim co-authored the Hometown Heroes bill. It passed in 2021 and secures millions of dollars each year for the well-being of firefighters and their families.

“Hometown Heroes would not have made it across the finish line without both Captain Parsons and all the firefighters that were willing to share their stories because it was the stories that actually had the greatest impact,” Rep. Youakim said.

Governor Walz also ordered all flags at state buildings to be flown at half-staff until Wednesday to honor Parsons. Flags at businesses, organizations or owned by individuals are also encouraged to take part.

“Fire Captain Parsons was a dedicated firefighter who was respected by his family, friends, and colleagues,” reads the proclamation issued by Walz. “With its deepest gratitude, the State of Minnesota recognizes Christopher Parsons for his dedicated service to, and sacrifice for, his fellow Minnesotans, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and community.”

The SPFD says it will participate in the Active Member MN Type I Line of Duty Death (LODD) service for Captain Parsons.

  • Visitation
    • Wednesday, June 21, 2023, from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
    • Nicollet Island Pavilion, 40 Power St, Minneapolis, MN 55401
  • Memorial
    • Wednesday, June 21, 2023, from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
    • Nicollet Island Pavilion, 40 Power St, Minneapolis, MN 55401