Meet Jonathan Hoffman

Lead Maintenance Mechanic, Sanford Health

Serving his community is important to Jonathan Hoffman. As a member of the volunteer fire department and the city council, he plays a crucial role in helping the small town he calls home.

Even before he moved to St. Leo, Minnesota, in 2013, Jonathan started getting phone calls about joining the fire crew.

“I was approached before I had the house bought,” says Jonathan, a lead maintenance mechanic at Sanford Canby in Canby, Minnesota. “If you’re young and able, they want you on the department.”

Eight years later, Jonathan serves as fire chief overseeing 17 volunteers ranging in age from 25 to 65. He spends about one hour a week doing paperwork and leads a monthly meeting for the crew.

The department covers a 5-mile radius around St. Leo (population 100) and answers mutual aid calls from other small towns in the area. Although they generally don’t get a lot of fire calls, Jonathan says they tend to get more in the summer when it’s dry.

“We don’t have a water tower, so we have to have a bunch of water on hand,” says Jonathan. “We have a big, 3,500-gallon tanker that we bring out. It’s property of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that they loaned to us.”

The fire department’s water supply is stored in cisterns and accessed at an outside fill station with an electric pump that moves 500 gallons of water a minute from the cisterns to the tanker.

Jonathan remembers his first fire call vividly. It was a basement fire, which he says is one of the worst fires to go into.

“You couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. We were busting out windows trying to put the clothes dryer out,” Jonathan says. “We made a mess, but we got the fire out. The house didn’t burn down, but it had smoke and water damage.”

He also remembers an apartment fire where someone forgot to turn off their stove with a chicken baking in it. “We were banging on doors and trying to get people out of there,” says Jonathan.

No matter what, he and his crew are there to help. “We’ve had a house fire on New Year’s Eve when it was colder than heck out,” Jonathan adds.

Besides fighting fires, the crew gives back to the community in other ways. They recently teamed up with the Canby Fire Department, the Sportsman’s Club and the Porter Fire Department to sponsor a steak supper for staff members from Canby Public School and St. Peter’s Catholic School.

“We split up the bill, grilled steaks and served about 150 people. It was a chance for the school staff to relax and kick back after a hard year,” says Jonathan.

In addition to his fire department duties, Jonathan also serves on the city council. He ran for a seat in 2016 and was reelected in 2020. As part of his role, he attends monthly meetings where he provides the fire report. He also pays the city’s bills, helps work on ordinances and even did some mowing before they hired someone for the 10-hour a week job.

Jonathan often uses the maintenance knowledge from his job at Sanford Health to help with his city council role. This summer, he’ll be doing some plumbing for the bathroom at the city park and he likes the fact that he can help save the city money.

“I like to help out wherever I can,” says Jonathan.

Not one to sit still for very long, Jonathan also helps on his dad’s farm. In his spare time, he likes camping and hanging out with his dog.

Jonathan began working at Sanford Canby five years ago and became the maintenance lead a year ago. He enjoys the fast-paced work on the large campus.

“I never know what I’m going to get into and it makes the day interesting,” he says.