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Fire calls for year up slightly

Fire calls in West Fargo were up slightly in 2007 according to year end statistics released by West Fargo Fire Department Chief Roy Schatschneider. City crews responded to a total of 181 incidents, compared to 145 in 2006.

Of the calls, 40 were for fire, 6 for EMS and rescue, 30 for hazardous condition, 1 was a service call, 24 were good intent and 80 were false calls, with the total monetary loss at $564,450.

In contrast, rural calls were on the decrease with crews responding to 23 incidents in 2007, compared to 26 in 2006, with these including seven fires, 3 EMS/rescue, 3 hazardous condition, 8 good intent and 2 false calls, with monetary loss valued at $193,500.

The West Fargo Fire Department serves all of the West Fargo community as well as providing rural service to Reed, Raymond and Mapleton townships and a small area remaining in Barnes Township, that has not been annexed into Fargo or West Fargo.

The Department is staffed by 41 volunteer members and three paid employees - Chief Schatschneider, Assistant Chief Dell Sprecher, and Fire Prevention and Inspector Officer Kendel Frost.

Members of the squad are: Steve Barron, Tim Bonnema, Kevin Briggs, Joe Burchill, Nolan Carlson, Brian Christensen, Thomas Clark, Tim Clark, Kevin Dockter, John Freeman, Kevin Hawley, Kirk Hawley, Logan Johnson, Shane Jopp, Rory Jorgensen, Brad Kommer, Joe Lomsdal, Tim Masset, Dean Mattson, Perry McClellan, Chris Metz, Jamie Morlan, Jason Nitschke, Tim Oien, Mark Paler, Chris Papenfuss, Todd Pearson, Joey Porter, David Pralguske, Robert Pralguske, Chris Rolph, Kurt Sandeen, Nathan Schmid, James Sprague, Joe Tintes, Pat Wagemann, Mike Watson, Bob Wenzloff, Jon Whiting, Randy Woodley and Ken Zetocha.

Members elected at the recent annual meeting were Sprecher, first assistant and Tintes, second assistant. Perry McClellan was elected secretary. Chris Metz and Ken Zetocha were elected to the Board of Directors. They will serve with Chris Rolph, Kurt Sandeen and Kevin Dockter, the current board members.

Schatschneider said there were two major losses among the 2006 City statistics, homes belonging to Jack Kist and James Clark, both on Sheyenne Street. Ironically, the fires both occurred within one week of each other and only a couple of blocks apart.

Another bigger event was a garage fire in which a couple of vehicles were destroyed.

Only one commercial structure fire was reported in West Fargo and that was confined to equipment. "We correlate this minimal number to our inspection program," Schatschneider said. "Our officers are out and active and doing a good job," a reference to Sprecher and Frost. "They go through all the commercial structures, large apartment buildings and the daycares during the year. It just helps to keep people on their toes by pointing out potential problems that help eliminate hazards before they turn into something major. The best firefighters we have are our business owners and residents of the City. If we can eliminate a fire by their prevention efforts, that's the key."

The Lindemann shop fire that occurred near Harwood was the biggest fire of the rural responses, with the blaze destroying the entire shop and building, along with the tools and equipment.

Response time to all the fires was also excellent Schatsneider said, as he praised the efforts of his volunteer squad. "I can't say enough good about our guys. They are willing to respond anytime of the day or night. We can have a truck on the street within three minutes of when the call comes in. For a volunteer department, that's very good. They really make the whole organization work. We realize our City budget is stretched to the limit with infrastructure needs, and anything we can do as a group to keep the cost down is also a large benefit to the taxpayers."

All in all, Schatschneider said the number one contributor to life safety is making sure that smoke detectors are installed, working properly and regularly maintained. Nationally, 50 percent of fatal fires that occur are in locations that don't have working smoke detectors. Take a few minutes to check batteries and clean them on occasion by vacuuming the face to remove any dust that has collected. This is so important, because the smoke will overcome you before the fire."

The West Fargo Fire Department is located at 108 1st St. E. With the rapid growth the community has experienced, plans are in the works for a second station that will also house a police department on an approximate 40,000 square foot parcel just off of 6th Street West on 32nd Avenue South.

The City purchased the land earlier this year at a cost of about $170,000.

Construction is set to begin on the site in the spring of 2010, with an occupation estimate of late 2010.

Another change within the fire department is the switchover next month of 911 services which will be coordinated by the Red River Regional Dispatch Center, a move that City officials also approved recently.

Schatschneider emphasized that there won't be any change in service or response time, the only difference will be the calls will be answered at the RRRDC, instead of by a West Fargo dispatcher at the Police Department.

Inquiries can be made to the Fire Department by calling their regular business number at 433-5380.