History of the Oakdale Fire Department

The Beginnings

The Oakdale (Northdale) Fire Department originated in the garage of Dean Arnt consisting of only 12 members, one old Jeep and a 1953 Ford fire truck purchased from a neighboring department. The newly formed department borrowed $12,000 to build a station at 6279 50th Street. The original station was built by volunteer firefighters in 1964 and consisted of three bays, a hose tower, meeting room, two bathrooms, kitchen, and an office, all in a 60 foot by 40 foot building. The first chief was John Fry and the group responded to 24 calls that first year.

The next purchases were a 1960 pumper and additional pieces of firefighting equipment.  In 1969, the first new Class A pumper was purchased from American LaFrance. It was a LaFrance Pioneer, 1000 GPM, 750-gallon water tank pumper with a gas engine and manual transmission. In 1972, a second Class A pumper, also an American LaFrance Pioneer was purchased. This was a 1250 GPM Pumper with a 500-gallon water tank and a diesel engine. In 1974, two additional larger apparatus bays were added on to the station.

In 1980, Oakdale Fire started to provide ambulance service to the community. The service provided was at a Basic Life Support level, staffed by volunteer firefighter / emergency medical technicians (EMS). This service was enhanced to include the ability to start IVs in 1996. Also in 1996, the department entered into an agreement with Lakeview EMS to provide the residents of Oakdale with Advanced Life Support (ALS) Paramedic Service. A version of this two-tier service is still in effect today.

Expansion of Services

In 1997, the Oakdale Fire Department undertook its greatest challenge by doubling its coverage area. Prior to this time, Oakdale was covered by two fire departments. The Oakdale Fire Department covered the northern half of the City and the East County Line Fire Department covered the southern half.

On January 1, 1997 Oakdale Fire became the sole provider of fire and EMS service to the City. At that time, the call volume almost tripled. The call volume was approximately 500 per year and went to 1,300 per year overnight. The department membership would nearly double in numbers. 

The fire fighters located in the south half of the City worked out of the Oakdale Public Works garage for approximately one year while a new station was being built. Housed at the Public Works garage were two pumpers, an ambulance, a brush truck, and an office.

The department’s first full-time fire chief was hired at this point and he started his new position on January 1, 1997.

Transition to a Career-Based Staffing Model

In 2003, the department hired its second full-time employee. The Deputy Chief /Fire Marshal position was created for the City of Oakdale.

In 2004, the department hired two more full-time employees, a firefighter / paramedic and a firefighter / EMT. These individuals were responsible for responding to all medical call during the hours of 6 AM and 4 PM, Monday through Friday. With the hiring of these individuals, the department upgraded its EMS service level to Advanced Life Support and became a “Combination” department.

In 2007, and again in 2008, two additional firefighter / paramedics were added to the full-time staff of the department. Six full-time firefighters now staff a station 24 hours a day, seven days a week, working with the volunteer firefighters to provide 24/7 Advanced Life Support service.

In the years from 2004 thru 2014 the departments run volume has continued to increase from 1576 calls for service in 2004 to a projection of 2200 plus calls in 2014.

In July 2018 and December of 2018 three additional Firefighter/Paramedics and one/EMT were added to the full time staff of the department.  The twelve full time firefighters now staff both fire stations 24 hours a day 7 seven days a week, working with the volunteer firefighters to provide 24/7 ALS service.

Facilities and Equipment

Original Station #1

Original Station #1 was the birth place of our proud and historic Fire Department. The structure was demolished in 2003, ironically used as a training opportunity for the fire staff.  

Fire Station #1

In 2002, ground was broken for the new Station 1, located at 5000 Hadley Avenue. The new station was completed and dedicated in January of 2003. At that time, original Station 1 was decommissioned and the building demolished. 

Fire Station #2

In 1997, the department broke ground for Station 2, located at 6633-15th Street. In May of 1998, the department was moved into the new station. This station housed the department administration offices and had three apparatus bays. 

East Metro Public Safety Training Center

After several years of thoughtful planning and regional collaboration, the East Metro Public Safety Training Center, also known as East Metro Training Facility (EMTF), officially opened on October 9, 2016. 

The facility is located on five acres near the intersection of Minnesota 120 and Minnesota 5, which was donated by donated by the Minnesota Department of Transpiration. The construction of the site was made possible by funding from the State of Minnesota, Ramsey County, and the member communities. 

The EMTF offers two fire simulator buildings: a tower and a two-story house with a basement and a garage. The facility also includes classroom space that can be used for training. The facility is used by Maplewood, North St. Paul, Oakdale, and Lake Elmo fire departments.

Headquarters, 5000 Hadley Avenue N

Fire Station One profile view

Station 2, 6633 15th Street N

Oakdale Fire Station 2 building located at 6633 15th Street

Original Station #1

original station one

East Metro Public Safety Training Center

EMPS training center

Oakdale ambulances

Two Oakdale fire department ambulances parked in front of a fire station

Oakdale Fire Truck

Oakdale Fire Department fire truck

Oakdale Aerial Truck

Oakdale Fire Department ladder truck