Growing up, Maple Grove resident Beth Thibodeau never thought she would end up serving in the Maple Grove Fire Department (MGFD). That all changed when her husband, Jon, joined the department, and Thibodeau became exposed to the world of firefighting. Her curiosity was piqued.
Thibodeau says Jon “enjoyed it so much, and the calls he went to were always so interesting to me. I always asked about each call when he returned.” Jon's experiences had a strong impact on her, and Thibodeau found herself being called to serve, as well.
After two years of hearing her husband’s stories, Thibodeau decided it was time for her to join the firefighter ranks. When she first joined the MGFD, Jon says he was “proud of her. It made [his] experience that much better.”
Flash forward 12 years, and although MGFD has been such a positive part of Thibodeau’s life, she is retiring. “I’ll miss the people … [and] helping people when they desperately need help,” she says. “Being a firefighter is very rewarding.” Thibodeau says she’ll even miss driving the back of the Tiller, a ladder truck that the MGFD keeps at Station 2. “I loved driving that truck.”
Thibodeau is also appreciative of how she was able to balance home and family, saying she’s “blessed to have served for 12 years … while raising four children and also having my husband serving, too. It was a great experience!”
It was an experience she shared with her fellow firefighters, but serving in the same department as Jon offered another level of encouragement. The couple supported each other through its work experiences. Thibodeau says, firefighting “was a … job we did together, and it was nice we could support each other …but we would never get on the same truck and work as a crew together just in case something bad were to happen.” To ease that concern, Jon transferred to a different fire station in Maple Grove.
Thibodeau has great memories from her time on the MGFD. “My strongest memories are working through the demanding training that is done each month,” she says. In addition to fire-related exercises, the team also went through a police gun training program.
Thibodeau’s co-workers were the best she could have hoped for, she says, and despite being in such a male-dominated field, she has nothing but great memories from her team. “I’m sure there are some challenges for women in the fire service, but my experience was always very positive,” she says. “I feel I was treated fairly by my colleagues. The fire chiefs displayed great leadership, and that was apparent in the culture at Maple Grove Fire.”
After retiring from the department, Thibodeau is able to focus on her job as a registered service representative at a financial planning firm, a job she held while with the MGFD. “Many people don’t realize that Maple Grove firefighters are paid-on-call and have regular jobs, as well,” she says. But when she isn’t working, Thibodeau looks forward to spending time with her husband, children, and “especially [her] new granddaughter.”