Rob Frisbie

Rob Frisbie was named Firefighter of the Year by the Chanhassen Fire Department. He also received the honor last year.

Being selected by your peers as Chanhassen Firefighter of the Year is a pretty good sign you’re well-liked and respected, and you’ve proven to be a hard worker, trustworthy and an example of the department’s values.

Rob Frisbie was named the 2018 Firefighter of the Year by the Chanhassen Fire Department earlier this year, and recently recognized again at the “Black Hat Ceremony.”

This is the second time he’s been selected. He was also Firefighter of the Year for 2017.

“I was very surprised,” Frisbie admitted in a recent email. “Only one or two others before me have ever won the Firefighter of the Year award twice, let alone in a row.”

According to Chanhassen Fire Chief Don Johnson, firefighters are nominated for this award by their peers and officers on the department. It is only awarded to a department member of firefighter rank for outstanding service in any category.

“All nominations are reviewed during an officer meeting that includes the captains and chiefs on the department,” Johnson said. “A majority vote is taken to decide the winner.”

What considerations do fellow firefighters make in voting?

Frisbie’s award certificate states the following:

“Firefighter Rob Frisbie continues to give exceptional service to the city of Chanhassen and the Chanhassen Fire Department. He always makes time to serve his community by attending duty crews, volunteering for department activities, and is often on the first truck out the door to emergency calls.

“He leads by example and helps new firefighters develop the skills they need to be successful in the fire service through mentorship. His steadfast presence shows the future of Chanhassen Fire is bright. Firefighter Frisbie is an incredible asset to the Chanhassen Fire Department.”

Frisbie is humble.

“Not to discredit my department for giving me this award, but I would have liked to see it go to someone else,” Frisbie said in an interview by email. “There are others who are just as deserving of the award as I am. To win it once was enough for me. I like to spread the recognition to others on the department. Nonetheless I am truly honored, and grateful for such a prestigious award.”

Firefighter of the Year doesn’t give Frisbie first dibs at the firefighters’ picnic or a special seat on a fire truck. But does comes with a pin.

“That pin represents a lot more (to me because) you must be selected by your peers, captains and chiefs on the Fire Department. And these men and women I serve with have become more than just peers and coworkers. They are a second family to me. They are my brothers and sisters. If any of them needed help doing anything, I am glad to know they can rely on me.”

Not a straight path

Frisbie is originally from Burbank, California, and moved to Eden Prairie with his family when he was 11 years old. His parents are Mark and Kristin Frisbie and he’s the oldest of four siblings. He attended Eden Prairie schools, then transferred in high school to play basketball for Hopkins High School. After tearing his ACL, he transferred back to Eden Prairie High School.

“I took an eight-year route in college, transferring from school to school trying to figure out what I wanted to do,” Frisbie said. “From Normandale Community College to St. Cloud to Azusa Pacific University in California, back to Normandale, to finally the University of Minnesota where I graduated. It was an expensive way of trying to find my career path.”

He recently joined the Chaska Police Department as a Community Service Officer (CSO), “with hope and dreams to become a Chaska Police Officer,” Frisbie said. “In the future, I would love to be a School Resource Officer and coach basketball.

“I enjoy helping others out and treating everyone fairly whether you’ve got 20 years or one year on the department,” he said. “I want to make the fire department a place where my brothers and sisters can go and smile. Where they feel at home and welcomed. We have difficult calls sometimes, but we are all there for each other.”

This summer will mark his seventh with the Chanhassen Fire Department. His certifications include: Firefighter I, II, Hazmat operations, Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Fire Apparatus Operator, Mentor/Leadership, Water/Ice Rescue, Wildfires, and soon, Blue Card Certified.

Among things that inspire him, he brought up a book called “Pride and Ownership,” by Rick Lasky.

“Chief Johnson let us all read it,” Frisbie said, “which highlights integrity, honor and pride. If you follow Lasky, and I would say even Chief Johnson’s three things to be successful — 1) Do what is right. 2) Do your best. 3) Treat others as you would like to be treated — a firefighter would be on a great track for becoming Firefighter of the Year.”

Now hiring

Despite so many other community fire departments nearby, Frisbie said he picked the Chanhassen Fire Department because he lives right down the street from the main fire station.

“I was in between choosing what I wanted to do for a career,” Frisbie remembered, “and the fire station had a ‘Now Hiring’ sign posted outside. I came in to grab an application and met a person, who would later become one of my best friends and mentor, Chief Steve Smith. I guess you could say it was a calling. When I told my parents about it, my mom said it’s something she could see me doing.

“The community of people within the fire department all love what we do and when we respond to calls everyone has a smile on their face. Being on it for almost seven years now, I have made some lifelong friendships and mentors that are irreplaceable. I would do anything for these guys and gals. It became a great support system and I am truly blessed to be part of such a neat and amazing organization.”


Unsie Zuege is an award-winning multimedia journalist, who enjoys community journalism, bibimbop, Netflix, Trivia Mafia and snuggling tiny dogs, not necessarily in that order.


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