Minnesota History: Building A Legacy

I-35W Bridge Collapse Exhibit

I-35W bridge wreckage

I-35W bridge wreckage, August 3, 2007

Jean Kidd had just walked in the back door of her Minneapolis home after a day at work when she got the first page.

“It was about a car fire. And I couldn’t figure out, why would they page me about a car fire?” recalled Kidd, who was the Minneapolis Fire Department’s Deputy Chief of Personnel at the time.

More pages came in quick succession until these words finally flashed on the tiny screen: “the 35W Bridge collapsed.”

“I hadn’t even set my purse down and I got back in my car,” Kidd remembered. She raced downtown to the dispatch center while 75 Minneapolis firefighters, three-quarters of the force on duty that day in August 2007, rushed to the scene of the collapse.

“All I could think of is ‘this is what you have been training your whole career for. Take a breath and make it happen,’” recalled Battalion Chief Dick Christianson, one of the first firefighters to arrive on scene.

Kidd said firefighters were able to transport to the hospital everyone who needed medical attention in less than 90 minutes.

“It was phenomenal, unheard of, considering the scale of the disaster,” said Kidd.

In August 2012, the fifth anniversary of the bridge collapse, a permanent exhibit about Minneapolis firefighters’ response that day will open at the Firefighter’s Hall and Museum in northeast Minneapolis. The exhibit received $5,950 from the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants Program.

Kidd, now a trustee at the museum, said it’s important that the community learn about firefighters’ role on that historic day in Minneapolis.

“The response to this tragedy is something Minnesotans should be proud of. Why wouldn't we want to capture and share that story?”
~ Jean Kidd, Minneapolis Fire Department