Maple Grove’s Anderson trades in fire helmet after 27 years as chief

Throughout his almost 30-year career with the Maple Grove Fire Department, Scott Anderson is rolling up the fire hoses and setting aside his fire helmet. Anderson has been the Maple Grove Fire Chief since 1990.

Last month it was announced that Chief Scott Anderson would be retiring. Anderson’s last day is July 31st.

Maple Grove Fire Chief Scott Anderson will be retiring July 31. He has been with the department since 1978, and been in the chief position starting in 1990.

FIREFIGHTER CAREER

The passion for firefighting started for Anderson when he was young.

“As a kid, I played with toy fire trucks,” he said. “I had a great uncle who was a firefighter for the city of Minneapolis and always enjoyed visits to his fire station. Later, had an opportunity to be a firefighter while in high school.”

Anderson began working as a cadet with the Hamel Fire Department while he was in high school from around 1970 to 1973. After that he became a regular firefighter.

He also worked as a paramedic back in the 1970s with North Memorial. He left his job as a paramedic when he was named fire chief. Anderson has been with the Maple Grove Fire Department since 1978.

“When I moved to Maple Grove in 1978, I became a volunteer firefighter for the department,” he said.

He was promoted to Captain at Station #1 in Maple Grove, which was also a volunteer position. Anderson also served as the city’s emergency management director and fire marshal.

“I was hired as fire chief in July of 1990,” he said.

Anderson said the fire vehicles are replaced every 20 to 25 years depending on the truck. “As chief I bought two trucks in 1997 and now the new replacement trucks will be coming this fall,” he said. “It’s come full circle.”

Maple Grove City Administrator Heidi Nelson said, “Scott has been an outstanding, highly-dedicated and trusted member of our leadership team and has served the city and the residents of the community in a exemplary manner in his role as the fire chief. His leadership has been instrumental in shaping the fire department into one of the most professional and top notch teams serving our community. We wish Chief Anderson a long and healthy retirement and thank him for all his service to our city.”

LOOKING BACK

Chief Anderson has a lot of memories he has collected over the past 47 years.

He remembers driving the tiller ladder truck, and weather event such as tornadoes and blizzards.

“I also remember many of the big apartment fires that have occurred over the years,” he added.

Maple Grove Fire Chief Scott Anderson is in uniform in 2004.

One of the things Anderson remembers the most about his fire-fighting career is riding the tailboard of the a fire truck driving along Interstate 94. The tailboard is the back bumper/platform area of the fire engine where firefighters could stand and ride on. Firefighters do not ride on the tailboard anymore as it is considered overly dangerous.

“We had to climb up the on the back and a way we’d go,” Anderson said. “We just had to hang on. Doing that in January wasn’t fun. It was really cold and it was especially cold if we were going I-94 at 70 mph. We just had to put our head down the helmet blocked the cold wind. The rain was also bad when it hit your face at freeway speeds.”

He has also seen the Maple Grove Fire Department grow under his leadership time.

“It grew from one station and about 25 volunteer firefighters to five stations and 11 full time staff and 95 paid on call firefighters,” he said. “In my 27 years as fire chief, I have managed construction of two of the fire stations and have replaced the whole fleet of fire trucks.”

He also said there was one stoplight in town when he started in the late ‘70s. “There was no Arbor Lakes, it was all gravel pits,” Anderson said. “Elm Creek Boulevard was only two lanes, not four. And Rice Lake Road was a county road.”

The first station was opened on Hemlock Lane near Maple Grove Middle School. He said there was a building located at County Road 30 and Fernbrook Lane with three garage doors that was a public works building. In 1978, the fire department used for a second station.

The building was closed in 1985 when the Central Station was built and opened at 13450 Maple Knoll Way.

RETIREMENT PLANS

“I will miss the people here,” Anderson said. “The full-time staff and firefighters. But I won’t miss getting up in the middle of the night or in when it’s raining or snowing for a call.”

So what does Chief Anderson have planned for his retirement?

“I am going to take August off and do home projects,” he said. “I’m keeping my options open. I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet, but I’ll do something. Nothing too taxing thought.”

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