This article was acquired from KTSP News and was written by Emily Baude.

Report uncovers inadequate conduct at Shakopee Fire Department

The City of Shakopee is overhauling its fire department after a consultant’s report detailed a toxic work environment, dangerously low staffing levels and sluggish response times that depict an agency “reflective of a department 20+ years ago.”

The city hired the consulting firm Citygate to evaluate the department’s operations and help create a template for its future after Rick Coleman retired as chief in December 2022 amid an external investigation into allegations of misconduct made by a citizen.

The report included 12 recommendations and 26 findings, which divided the department’s challenges into three portions: management culture, safety and standards, and adequate staffing and deployment.

The Shakopee Fire Department operates out of two stations to cover the city of about 48,000 people in Scott County.

Map of Shakopee Fire Department’s service areas (Credit: City of Shakopee)

Management Culture

The majority of staff interviewed by Citygate desire a more professional fire department with more staff and better leadership, according to the report.

Overall, the report found that department management shows “ad hoc decisions, favoritism, no quality assurance, no annual operations or training plan, [is] reactive, and (in many cases) was more reflective of a department 20+ years ago.”

The biggest indicator of inadequate leadership was limited policy mandates for training attendance, in addition to safety practices not being enforced, according to the report, which adds that the department is likely not in compliance with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) because the department’s part-time program “fragments job titles, responsibilities, and compensation.”

Even more concerning, the report states that partnering agencies said they don’t believe the department even has quality training and safety programs, which can endanger them and has led to broken relationships and a lack of trust with other departments. The firm wrote that, overall, it found “a lack of understanding and accordance with City Hall policies.”

Safety and Standards

Training for firefighters in Shakopee is not on par with recognized best practices in the industry, according to the report, which was largely concerned with department training typically not meeting the 11 core requirements for firefighting in Minnesota.

In addition to insufficient training, the department places the burden of documenting all training on each individual employee, with zero oversight from leadership.

Citygate officials say inadequate staffing means there’s not enough personnel to regularly conduct fire inspections on existing commercial buildings.

The crews who work investigations — the fire prevention section of the department — are often at maximum capacity workload, with just one on-duty fire engine crew for field inspections. This means that when a fire prevention crew goes out, they could be called away at any moment to the dismay of the resident who scheduled an inspection that day.

Adequate Staffing and Deployment

The Shakopee Fire Department’s current deployment model includes four people on duty daily at Station 1, which is insufficient to safely and effectively fight a fire in a single-family home and would leave no remaining on-duty personnel in the case of a major or simultaneous incident.

The report found sluggish response times, with the most recent data showing crews arriving four minutes and 21 seconds slower than the best practice response time of seven and a half minutes.

Citygate officials said six to eight part-time firefighters (out of 48) are shouldering more than a “fair share” of the workload and part-time personnel may provide value to the city, but their staffing doesn’t meet the city’s exposure needs.

The report found that the department likely does not need a third station at this time, but the city could consider a third station as the outer edge of the city becomes more populated. However, the report encouraged the department to implement first-due units and multiple-unit ERF coverage from the two existing stations, in addition to a part-time firefighter force to deliver on recommended urban/suburban area response performance goals.

The firm did highlight personnel within the department, writing that many stepped up to initiate reforms without waiting for its report.

“Citygate is very impressed by these individuals and the work accomplished to date and believes there is strong DNA in the Department upon which to ‘reboot’ the Department’s culture and programs.”


The Citygate report recommends a slew of initiatives, ranging from small to large.

In an effort to conserve resources, the report recommends the city transfer its search and rescue missions to the Scott County Sheriff’s Office as the city doesn’t have an overt need for a dive team.

Additionally, the report encourages the city to employ both career and part-time employees, in addition to creating a part-time firefighter/EMT position.

In regards to response time, Citygate says crews should arrive at small fires within eight-and-a-half minutes from the time of a 911 call. For larger fires, crews should arrive with at least one chief officer and 12 people within 12-and-a-half minutes from the time of the 911 call, which works out to a minute-and-a-half dispatch time, a two-minute crew turnaround and a nine-minute travel time.

According to the report, the department should also add career and part-time staffing at both stations, which would provide a four-person shift staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Citygate also recommends the department encourage and transition first responder EMS from the Police Department to the Fire Department and remodel both fire stations as soon as funds allow.

The department must also acquire documentation of annual hazardous material response training, which is required under federal law every year.

The report suggests the city administrator should consider transferring the role and responsibilities of the emergency manager to the fire chief.

“With a leadership change at Fire Chief, it became clear there were systemic issues in the department that needed to be addressed. To fully understand the magnitude of the issues involved, the city hired Citygate for an in-depth and honest appraisal of our fire operations. Once presented with the draft report, we immediately addressed the most pressing issues – those concerning training and safety – and they are resolved. New departmental leadership will soon be in place, and we will continue to move the department forward.”City Administrator Bill Reynolds


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