When hired as Eagan’s first full-time fire chief 15 years ago, Mike Scott said he’d landed his dream job. That dream began decades earlier when his father joined the new Eagan Volunteer Fire Department. From age 7, Scott says, “I would beg my dad to take me along to the fire station every chance I got.” Often, he’d hold the clipboard as his dad ran through the equipment checklist. Or he’d excitedly ride along when a fire truck needed refueling. At age 18, he joined as a volunteer too.
A memory that has stayed with Scott from his early days as a volunteer firefighter is an apartment fire in 1996. He
says it’s vivid, in part, because he was a young father with a second daughter on the way. As the crew opened one apartment door, they saw the space engulfed with fire and smoke. “We could barely see,” he remembers. Suddenly,
he was handed a baby, covered in soot and not breathing. Despite the fire and smoke, he removed his air mask and began rescue breathing on the infant as he ran with her toward the exit. “It seemed like the longest hallway ever,” Scott recalls. “But just as I cleared the doorway, the baby took a breath.... It’s something that stays with you. I’ll never forget.”
“It has been an honor to do this job,” he says.
“The department now has a really strong
foundation for future generations to build on.
That foundation will continue to serve the
community’s needs for years to come. And
we’re ready for someone else to build onto that.”
Over the past couple of years, Scott has led the organization’s transition from an all-volunteer/paid-per-call organization to a paid staff with 36 full-time firefighters (all with EMT or medic training) at three fire stations. Thanks to their 24/7/365 coverage, they’ve cut response times in half, saving both lives and property. In 2018, Scott was named Minnesota Fire Chief of the year by his peers for the work he did leading the transition.
After 35 years of service, Scott retires at the end of May and says he’s proud of the new foundation he’s been able to build — in addition to the strong volunteer department he previously led.
“I’m really, really proud of the heritage of this department — all the volunteers who’ve served this community so well.”
Scott says his family’s history with the fire department and his long service as a volunteer perhaps made him uniquely suited to lead the department through so much change. “I hope I was the right person in the right job at the right time.”