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West Fargo firefighters sing for Bob 95

Volunteer firefighters from the West Fargo Fire Department appear in the latest TV commercial for country radio station Bob 95 FM, while the Fargo Fire Department turned down a request to participate in the spot.

The commercial features various groups of people from throughout the community, including the West Fargo Packatahnas dance team, F-M Ambulance workers and elementary schoolchildren.

Ten West Fargo volunteer firefighters appear next to a yellow fire truck, singing along to the "Turn your knob to Bob" theme song with the station's puppet mascot sitting in the driver's seat.

West Fargo Fire Chief Roy Schatschneider said the station asked if the department would be in the spot.

"I thought it was just a good opportunity to get our guys' faces on the television and get the guys some recognition," he said.

Fargo Fire Chief Bruce Hoover said his department turned down a similar request to appear in the commercial.

"We told them we don't do free advertising," he said.

Fargo firefighters do appear at events for nonprofit groups and the Fargo Park District, but not for for-profit businesses, Hoover said.

"A lot of times people want a fire truck there just to bring business in to whatever event they're having, and we don't see that as our role," he said.

A key difference between the two departments is that the Fargo Fire Department is a city department with all paid city employees, while the West Fargo Fire Department is a nonprofit organization with its own board of directors and a city contract - worth $475,000 this year - to provide fire service to the city of West Fargo.

"So, that's really not my call," West Fargo Mayor Rich Mattern said when asked about the commercial.

"You kind of think things like that are done in good fun," Mattern said. "If another station would ask, they'd probably do it."

West Fargo's fire department has 41 volunteer members and three full-time paid employees. The paid employees did not appear in the TV spot, which was filmed April 17, Schatschneider said.

"Everything was done right outside the door of our fire station here, so there was no money out of anybody's pocket, and all our guys were here on their own time," he said.

The firefighters weren't paid for their appearance, nor were the other participants, said John Austin, operations manager for Bob 95 and the other FM frequency stations at Radio Fargo-Moorhead.

"Just local groups is really what we were shooting for, and we had a lot of people in the forefront that wanted to be in those commercials," he said