Minnetonka assistant fire chief dies in hospital

Minnetonka Assistant Fire Chief Jim Flanders died unexpectedly after being found unresponsive in his home Saturday.

The city says police and fire personnel performed life-saving measures at the scene.

Flanders was taken to the hospital, where he later died.

“My heart is broken for Jim’s family and our fire family. Losing one of our brothers is devastating,” said Minnetonka Fire Chief John Vance.

Flanders was said to have worked as a Minnesota first responder for many years.

Minnetonka says Flanders was so widely respected that his city coworkers named him the 2021 Spirit of Minnetonka award winner.

Minnetonka City Manager Mike Funk says Flanders was an “indispensable” community resource.

“Just a few days ago, he was the one passing along warnings as severe storms approached Minnetonka. He also continued to track COVID-19 and coordinated the area’s response to the pandemic,” Funk said.

Vance echoed Funk’s sentiment.

“He was always at his post helping our community prepare for and deal with emergencies,” Vance said.

Minnetonka will announce memorial plans once they are finished.

“He was 100% dedicated to the safety of this department and the safety of this community,” Minnetonka Fire Chief John Vance said. “We go to heart attacks every day with our department, but this time was different because it was one of our own. As much as you think you’re prepared, I’m not prepared. My heart is broken.”

Jim Flanders received the 2021 Spirit of Minnetonka award. Credit: City of Minnetonka