Rocco Forte, former fire chief, leaving Minneapolis position

By Adam Turman

By Adam Turman

Rocco Forte, the oft-controversial former Minneapolis fire chief, is leaving his administrative position with the city.

City Councilmember Don Samuels says Forte is resigning from his current job, which entails managing the city's regulatory and emergency preparedness operations, to start a consulting firm, effective July 1.

Forte was the fire chief from 1998 to 2004. After leaving the department, he was hired into the administrative position with city.


Forte quickly made waves by "reorganizing" the department. From a City Pages article published shortly after his appointment:

Within six months, at least four high-ranking, well-respected employees within the regulatory services division--which includes things such as licensing and inspections--had seen their posts eliminated as part of this reorganization. Three of the employees had been forced into lower-paying, less-prestigious jobs within the city, while a fourth was left unemployed.

Here's an e-mail from Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and City Councilmember Barb Johnson sent to other city employees regarding Forte's resignation:


We wanted to inform you that Rocco Forte is resigning his position as Director of Regulatory Services and Emergency Preparedness effective July 1, 2011.

As you are aware, Rocco left his position as Minneapolis Fire Chief in 2004 to take on the role of Director of Regulatory Services and Emergency Preparedness. We have been fortunate to have Rocco serving in these key positions for more than 10 years. Through his leadership, Regulatory Services has become an effective, efficient, results-driven operation that also maintains the highest standards for customer service.

Thanks to Rocco, the City of Minneapolis is a national leader in emergency management and response, and his work to prepare our city for a disaster was tested like none of us could have imagined during the I-35W bridge collapse. There is no doubt that our response was outstanding, as were the efforts to prepare for and manage the Republican National Convention in 2008 and the response to the tornado in 2009. That is due in very large part to Rocco Forte.

We intend to begin the search process to fill the Director of Regulatory Services position in advance of his departure to make the transition as seamless as is possible.

We would also like you to know that we intend to make a shift in the division of Emergency Management. You may recall that that management of emergency preparedness was shifted to Regulatory Services when Rocco was named director of that department. This was done recognizing that Emergency Management would be well-served under his capable leadership. Now that Rocco is leaving the City, our intention is to move Emergency Management to the City Coordinator department.

We hope you will join us in thanking Rocco for his years of service to the City of Minneapolis. From his first role here as a Minneapolis firefighter to his leadership as Fire Chief and Director of Regulatory Services and Emergency Preparedness, Rocco has given his all to help make this a safe city that we are all proud to call home.


Mayor R.T. Rybak and Council President Barbara Johnson

And here's Forte's response:

Mayor Rybak and Council President Johnson,

After 36 years of service I have decided to resign effective July 1, 2011. I am very proud of the achievements the departments I have been in charge of have accomplished.

My goal when I retired from the Fire Department and accepted the position in Regulatory Services and Emergency Preparedness was to turn Regulatory Services around and make it a cost effective, efficient department. That goal has been achieved and there is an excellent succession plan in place. On the Emergency Management side I wanted to assure that we had an emergency operations plan that could be implemented by our first responders. After the 35W bridge collapse, the Republican National Convention, and the tornado that went through South Minneapolis, it is clear that we have one of the finest emergency management teams in the country. It was also a long time goal of mine to complete the Emergency Operations Training Facility that includes an Emergency Operations Center, Strategic Information Center as well as a training facility which seats up to 250 people per day.

I plan to pursue consulting opportunities that have been offered to me as I move forward. I appreciate the opportunities the City has given me to lead the Fire Department, Regulatory Services and Emergency Preparedness throughout my career.


Rocco Forté