In its early days, Shakopee didn’t have a fire department. Instead a bucket brigade of residents and business owners fought fires as best as they could. That changed after fires in the 1870s destroyed many homes and businesses. The Common Council of the City created Shakopee’s first volunteer fire department in 1883.
The department’s first station was housed in the lower level of City Hall at 2nd Avenue and Lewis Street. In 1955, the station moved to 2nd Avenue and Scott Street. Today, the City still operates that station and has added another at 2700 Vierling Drive E. A new station is being constructed at 1001 Vierling Drive West. When it opens, it will replace the 2nd Avenue and Lewis Street station.
Early firefighters, most of whom were business owners or City Council members, were truly volunteers who served for no pay. Minimal pay of $.25 per hour was added later, and today that amount has grown to $10+ per hour.
These first firefighters had to haul their equipment to the scene of the fire in carts and then find a water source (the river, ponds, wells or cisterns). Through the years, transportation methods (fire trucks) and water sources improved, but fires were still plentiful.
The Shakopee Fire Department has been challenged by many devastating fires. Some memorable fires include the 1958 Schesso-Hughes Auto Dealership fire, where Shakopee suffered its first and only firefighter line-of-duty death (Max Wermerskirchen). On July 4, 1973, fire broke out at Pollution Control Inc., and hundreds of 55 gallon barrels exploded during the 10 hour inferno. In August 2005, the Shakopee Fire Department was joined by more than a dozen neighboring departments as they fought to save historic St. Mark’s church from fire.
Firefighter Wermerskirchen's name will be added to the list of Minnesota line-of-duty dealths listed on the Minnesota Fire Service Memorial (see photo to the left), which will be be dedicated in the fall of 2012. The memorial will be located at the State Capitol. Learn more at http://mnfireservicefoundation.org/Learn-More.html.
Learn more about the history of the Shakopee Fire Department in this video produced for the 150th Anniversary. The video includes historic photos and an interview with veteran Firefighter Eddie Mosser. - Click Here to Watch the Video
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