St. Paul's first Hmong firefighter was inspired by 9/11 responders
Posted: 01/02/2014 12:01:00 AM CST
When Tou Lo was about 16, he saw a documentary about New York City firefighters who had responded to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"I was inspired by what they were doing, and I just made up my mind right there -- that's what I wanted to be doing later," said Lo, now 25.
He didn't know any firefighters, and Lo, who is Hmong-American, had never seen a firefighter who looked like him. But he was undeterred.
On Friday, Tou Lo graduates from the St. Paul fire academy and becomes the first Hmong firefighter in Minnesota's capital city.
The Twin Cities has the largest concentration of Hmong people living in the United States, and the first Hmong officers joined St. Paul's Police Department in the 1980s.
Tim Butler, who became St.Paul's fire chief in 2007, said he had hoped to pin the fire badge on a Hmong firefighter during his tenure.