Since its inception in 1963, the Eagan Fire Department has evolved greatly. “Today we’re all career, all full time, here to respond from the station 24 hours a day, every day of the year,” says Fire Chief Hugo Searle. Those changes have meant faster response times, jumping from an average 14 minutes five years ago to under seven minutes today. “That directly impacts our ability to save life and property,” he says.
Along the way, the department has celebrated milestones, including new fire stations in 2011 and 2017, an all-female engine company for the first time in 2021, and transitioning to an
all-career staffing model in 2022.
With that transition, the City’s firefighters fully took on the roles of medical first responders, answering calls for aid in situations from car accidents to hazardous material leaks, and everything in between.
HOW THEY DO IT: TOOLS, TRAINING, AND TECHNOLOGY
The Eagan Fire Department is dedicated to protecting and serving the community with reliable responses by 40 highly trained professionals, plus three fire stations, a fleet of fire trucks, and equipment. That means a lot of training; regular practice scenarios include water rescues, apartment fires, and heart attacks.
Another key ingredient to the department’s ability to respond efficiently to emergencies is technology. In 2023, the department began using a geographic information system (GIS) to help provide data about locations they serve, helping them better prepare for situations they’ll encounter on calls.
Additionally, Searle says, they never underestimate the power of connection. Eagan firefighters attend community events like National Night Out, the Fourth of July parade, and the Food Truck Festival; plus, they host an annual open house during Fire Prevention Week in October. Participating in all these events helps develop relationships with residents and build trust.
Searle appreciates the community’s support — and their rating of the department in surveys. “We have a 96% positive rating from our community, and we’re very proud of that,” he says. “Our current success isn’t by accident or luck. We’ve had some of the best firefighters in the state go through these doors, and they’ve created a legacy in this community that each firefighter looks to live up to every day, and on every call.”