Kevin Kirvida

Minnesota Division

Kevin Kirvida, President

General Safety Equipment was founded in the town of Lindstrom in the mid 1930’s by Elmer Abrahamson. Elmer was the local blacksmith and volunteer Fire Chief at the time. When the need arose for Lindstrom’s first motorized fire truck, the City realized they could not afford one, therefore, Elmer offered to build a truck in his blacksmith shop. Upon seeing Elmer’s creation, other communities began asking him to build trucks for them as well, and thus the start of his new enterprise.

In the late 1940’s, General Safety was awarded a large contract to build pumper trucks for the U.S. Military. In need of a larger building, plus railway access, the company moved to North Branch, where a building was available meeting these needs.

In 1945, Elmer’s son-in-law, Mitch Kirvida, joined the company after completing his tour with the Navy. Mitch learned the business quickly, beginning as a mechanic, painter, delivery and sales person, and finally earning the rank of general manager. Elmer passed away in 1967, at which time Mitch and his wife Jean purchased the business. Mitch retired in 1988 and passed away in 1991.

Kevin Kirvida joined General Safety in 1978 and purchased the business from his father ten years later. In the early 90’s, General Safety began marketing their trucks on a national scale, which resulted in increased sales and the need for a larger facility. In 1992, General moved from North Branch to a new and larger facility in the Wyoming industrial park. Visitors to the Wyoming plant can see General Safety’s first fire truck on display in the office lobby.

In 1995, General Safety formed a partnership with Rosenbauer International, who is headquartered in the town of Linz, Austria. Rosenbauer is also a family owned company, and has been in business for over 130 years. With production sites and/or partnerships in over 14 countries worldwide, Rosenbauer is one of the largest and most respected companies in our field.

In 1998, another partnership was formed with Central States Fire Apparatus of Lyons, South Dakota, now Rosenbauer South Dakota. While Rosenbauer Minnesota division emphasis is still on customized vehicles, the partnership with the South Dakota division has provided the company with the combined largest product line in the industry.

Today, Rosenbauer Minnesota manufacturers fire trucks for nearly every state and country throughout the world. Recent customers include; Minneapolis, Bloomington, Cleveland, Ohio, Charlotte, North Carolina, Fort Worth, Texas, Spokane, Washington, China, Egypt, Israel, Korea, South Africa and the U.S. Air Force. Starting with its humbling beginnings on main street Lindstrom, General Safety is today regarded as a world-class provider of high quality fire apparatus.