After 25 years serving the City of Edina, Fire Chief Tom Schmitz is retiring from his position this month. Schmitz began as Fire Chief in February 2014, capping a distinguished career in the cities of Eden Prairie and Edina.
“I am extremely appreciative to the city and those I’ve had the pleasure of working with, from my colleagues and coworkers within the Fire Department to those around the city and beyond,” Schmitz said. “We have been able to accomplish some great things during my time as chief, and I am proud of the way this department has grown and evolved. The relationships I have developed with the community are what I will miss the most.”
Schmitz, a Bloomington native, has enjoyed a lengthy career in fire and rescue, beginning as a U.S. Air Force medic from 1982 to 1986.
His first experience in Edina came in 1993, when he was hired as a paramedic and firefighter. Six years later, Schmitz was promoted to battalion chief and tasked with overseeing the Fire Department’s training and safety programs and supervising paid-on-call firefighters. He also helped form the Special Operations Team and oversaw construction and operations of the South Metro Public Safety Training Facility. Schmitz held that position until moving to Eden Prairie in 2011.
Prior to his second stint with the city of Edina, Schmitz served as the assistant fire chief in Eden Prairie from 2011 to 2014. In taking that job, Schmitz returned to the place where his career began as a volunteer firefighter in 1988.
He will continue to teach while enjoying retirement, according to a city press release.
“Tom Schmitz is almost always the smartest guy in the room, but he never shows off,” said City Manager Scott Neal. “He is an educator. He knows how people learn new skills and behaviors. I think that Tom’s greatest impact on our Fire Department is that he makes everyone smarter. He helps people achieve a greater level of competency and professionalism in the fire service.”
A national search is underway to replace Schmitz while Assistant Chief Jeff Siems will serve as the department’s acting chief. Schmitz will be honored at a private ceremony prior to his retirement at Edina Fire Station No. 1.