Robert LaValle - Circle Pines FD

Robert LaValle, Chief - November 1, 1980

In 1980, the members of the Circle Pines Fire Department held a Halloween party for members’ families. During the party a fire alarm came in for a grass fire in the field behind the Down Under bar. Some members responded from the party, and others came from home.

Darlene LaValle, wife of Chief LaValle says, "The night of November 1, 1980 my husband and I were at home getting ready to go to a Halloween party. Bob had just finished getting into his costume when the fire call came in. He hurried out of his costume and drove to the fire station. At the station he told the driver of the first truck to leave without him. Normally he would have gone on the first truck. He then told the fireman manning the radio that he was going home. That fireman found Bob shortly thereafter on the fire station driveway apron. He then radioed for help."

The first crew on the scene heard the radio message: “Firefighter down. Send ambulance to fire station.” Chief Bob LaValle had arrived at the fire station from home and had a massive heart attack on the apron of the station. The ambulance was summoned from Unity Hospital. Several of the department members went to the hospital that evening still dressed in costume beneath firefighting gear. Chief LaValle died several hours later, the department’s only death in the line of duty. A plaque was placed at the base of the station’s flagpole in commemoration.

The above provided courtesy from the book “Circle Pines and Lexington Minnesota, History of the 1800s to 2000” by Stephen Lee, a member of the Circle Pines FD and its successor department the Centennial FD. Additional information provided by Darlene LaValle, wife of Chief LaVelle on October 11, 2011.

Note: The Circle Pines FD became part of the Centennial Fire District in 1985. The district combined the Fire Departments from Centerville, Circle Pines and Lexington.