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This article was acquired from the Swnewsmedia website and was written by Julia Fomby.

Shakopee Fire Department firetruck

The Shakopee Fire Department is reorganizing various leadership positions after a February report revealed significant shortcomings within the department.

The assessment, completed by Citygate Associates LLC and commissioned by the city, uncovered systemic issues within the department’s operations, raising concerns about its ability to meet industry standards and statutory requirements. Citygate’s findings showed a number of failures, including inadequate leadership, deficient training practices, and an outdated staffing model.

One of the largest issues found, highlighted in Citygate’s assessment, was the need for a fundamental shift in the department’s staffing and deployment approach.

With only four personnel on duty daily at Station 1, the department struggles to respond effectively to emergencies, leading to prolonged response times and limited resources for critical incidents. The reliance on part-time firefighters further exacerbates the challenges, necessitating a reevaluation of the department’s staffing strategy.

The administrative support staffing summary from Citygate’s evaluation identified several deficiencies in management organization and staffing levels. Key findings included the lack of training needs assessment, informal training programs, and understaffing in administrative roles. Recommendations ranged from increasing administrative staffing, to developing comprehensive policies and procedures, and establishing succession plans.

Mike Scott, interim fire chief, had expressed concern over the decline in volunteerism back in February at the Shakopee City Council meeting that revealed the report’s findings.

“As the needs have increased for firefighters with additional call volume and training requirements, people have less time to volunteer,” he said. “Cities across the Twin Cities Metro area who once have relied on an all-volunteer firefighter force have had to make changes in how they staff their fire departments.”

During the Tuesday, March 19, City Council meeting, city leaders approved the reorganization of the assistant fire chief and administrative captain positions to two deputy chiefs, all while adding an administrative assistant and filling open supervisor positions with three captain EMTs.

The change creates two new positions, a deputy chief of training and EMS, and a deputy chief of administration and fire operations. The restructuring at the assistant chief and administrative captain levels aims to enhance efficiency and accountability within the department, a memo to the City Council stated.

An administrative assistant will provide administrative support to fire staff and serve as the intial contact between the public and fire administration staff, the memo continued.

Citygate also provided a comprehensive staffing recommendation and phasing plan which laid out the addition of 25 full-time positions including 14 firefighters, six captains, three battalion chiefs, an administrative support staff and a fire inspector. These additional positions are recommended to take place over a four-year period and cost an estimated total of roughly $1.7 million, according to a grant application submitted by Andrea Harrell.

“This will provide 24 hour, on-duty, full-time supervision for the fire department for the first time in its 141-year history,” Scott said. “This federal grant program helps provide the initial funding for fire/EMS staffing for communities who are trying to meet national standards for fire and EMS response services for their communities.”

As the department grapples with the changes, the City of Shakopee is pursuing avenues for improvement, including applying for FEMA’s SAFER grant to offset initial costs associated with transitioning to a career-based staffing model. The grant, if secured, would provide crucial funding to support the hiring of additional full-time firefighters and bolster the department’s capacity to respond to emergencies effectively.

“These are essential first steps for building the foundation for the future of Shakopee Fire and Rescue services for the growing community of Shakopee,” Scott added.


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