Several Rockville firefighters resign from leadership positions

During a city hall meeting on Wednesday, the Rockville fire chief announced several firefighters were resigning from leadership positions in the department.

Fire chief Rodney Schafer informed the city council that the secretary, training officer, two captains, the second assistant chief, the first assistant chief, and himself were giving their 30-day notice to resign from these roles. However, several are staying on as active firefighters

"I've had 44 years of working with these people on the day-to-day operation. I couldn't ask for a better staff, and I'm going to be resigning my position also tonight. I'll take my 30-day notice and step down as a firefighter," Schafer said during the meeting. 

The fire chief did not provide a reason for the resignations during the meeting but said he had received several letters from his colleagues in the last week. The announcement took the city council and mayor by surprise.

"I’m pretty well-trained in the governance of a city, but this has never ever happened to me, so this is new territory ... I had no idea. Please give me guidance," said Mayor Duane Willenbring during the meeting, adding, "We're listening … this is monumental."

The city council is setting up a special meeting with the legal counsel to determine the next steps.

The City of Rockville, located just southwest of St. Cloud, released a statement about the resignations: 

"The City of Rockville received notice at last night’s city council meeting that five officers of the Rockville fire department are resigning their officer positions effective January 12, 2024. The City did not have any advance notice of these resignations.  The City will be conducting an immediate application process to replace these officers.  The City will continue to provide high quality fire services to its service area.  The City has been advised that all resigning officers will remain as members of the fire department."