Maplewood Fire Chief Steve Lukin and five others in the department have been placed on administrative leave in the wake of what Mayor Nora Slawik is calling a "very serious complaint."
The mayor declined to identify or discuss details of the complaint.
Maplewood Police Chief Paul Schnell, however, said firefighters and medics were called to the Good Samaritan Society nursing home on Aug. 7, where a 71-year-old woman suffering from Parkinson's disease had stopped breathing and was unconscious.
Firefighters attempted to resuscitate her, and were in the process of transporting her to the hospital, but ultimately stopped their efforts at the request of the woman's husband, who had arrived at the scene, according to a police report.
The woman was transported back to a room at the nursing home, where she died 20 minutes later, according to the report.
Schnell said that because there was no "do not resuscitate" directive, police investigated whether all the legal requirements were met when emergency responders stopped working to save the woman's life.
Maplewood police investigated the matter and consulted with the Ramsey County attorney's office before concluding that there was no criminal wrongdoing, Schnell said. After getting input from the county attorney, Schnell said he was not requesting a full criminal investigation.
Nonetheless, the six members of the Fire Department were placed on leave Monday.
City Manager Melinda Coleman said Tuesday that officials will "complete our work on this by the end of the week, we hope."
The news is the latest in a long sequence of troublesome issues for a Ramsey County suburb that led the alternative weekly City Pages several years ago to brand Maplewood as "the Twin Cities' most dysfunctional suburb."
It also comes as the FBI pursues an equally mysterious probe that has been tied to the abrupt departure of a former city administrator.
In the matter concerning Lukin and others, Slawik cautioned against expecting much in the way of a detailed explanation in the near future.
"With firefighters as members of labor unions, they have a process they go through when something happens," she said. "Our preliminary findings may just be that there's a need for further investigation."
Those on leave in addition to Lukin include the assistant fire chief, Clarence "Butch" Gervais, and four full- or part-time firefighters.
Lukin and Gervais could not be reached for comment.
The city is "determining what the next steps are," the mayor said, "determining the validity of the complaint, just as we are with the FBI investigation: Get all the circumstances on the table, who did what, and then make a determination."
Slawik, a former legislator, was elected mayor in 2013 on a clean-up-the-house platform. On her watch, the city brought in the FBI for a probe that was first disclosed last fall.
City Hall and law enforcement officials have said almost nothing about the inquiry, but past signs have pointed to former City Manager Chuck Ahl being the focus.
Maplewood has three full-time administrative staffers in the Fire Department along with 15 full-time and 38 part-time firefighters working out of three stations.
The interim fire chief is Mike Mondor, an assistant chief who heads the emergency medical tech program and "is making sure all shifts are covered," Coleman said.