Long Lake Fire Department to provide water response this summer amid dispute with Orono

Long Lake-Orono firefighting debate

Long Lake-Orono firefighting debate

Long Lake Mayor Charlie Miner expects the city will learn soon how much money the city will receive from Orono as the result of a judgement last year in its firefighter dispute. He shared the update during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

In November 2023, a judge found the City of Orono in contempt of court for recruiting Long Lake firefighters and making plans to renovate the Navarre Fire Station Long Lake still operated. The court ordered Orono to pay fines of $2,000 for each Long Lake firefighter they contacted aimed at recruitment and for any instances of Orono making plans for the Navarre Fire Station without involving Long Lake.

RELATED: Judge rules Orono violated court order in fire department battle

Miner said he expects the judge’s order of how much Orono will have to pay Long Lake, including reimbursement for legal fees, “any time now.”

The two cities on the north side of Lake Minnetonka had a contract for 20 years but Orono wants to open its own department. According to the City of Orono’s website, the new fire department “begins operations in the Casco Point and Tonkawa areas on July 1, 2024 and then all of Orono on January 1, 2026 as the current service contract with Long Lake sunsets.”

During the City Council meeting, Miner said he was surprised to learn recently Long Lake will still be responsible for responding to calls and cover Forest Lake and North Arm Bays until January 1, 2026.

“Our fire department learned that just a week or two ago and we just learned as council members last Thursday,” said Miner. “Some members of [the Orono] City Council are giving this message to their residents that they’re all set, they’re fully prepared, they’re taking over this area on July 1 but that’s not actually completely accurate because they have quite a bit of lakeshore in this area and they’ll have no way to get to that lakeshore from the lake, at least, and cover any emergencies that happen just off the lake shore that’ll be up to the Long Lake Fire Department.”

The City of Orono does not have a boat.

Orono City Administrator Adam Edwards explained in an email Tuesday night, Orono plans to obtain a boat and other equipment needed to cover the lake and the rest of the city over the next 18 months.

According to Edwards, Hennepin County dispatch requested clarification over the last couple of weeks about who would respond to water calls and that clarification was provided to the county. 

He said, “The Orono Fire Department will be ready to take over the Navarre area in July of this year and the reminder of the city on January 1, 2026. We will continue to work with the City of Long Lake and the Long Lake Fire Department to make this transition as smooth as possible for all of our residents and the emergency responders who serve them.”

RELATED: Long Lake sues Orono over future of fire department