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Increase in fire calls correlates with growth

West Fargo Fire Department crews respond to a fire earlier this year at a West Fargo residence. The department responded to a record number of calls last year. Submitted photo

Fire calls were up for the year 2010 from the prior year in both the city of West Fargo and rural areas served, according to statistics in a year-end report released by the West Fargo Fire Department. West Fargo Fire Chief Roy Schatschneider said the fact that the responses were up just goes along with the territory and the growth the city is experiencing.

He said a larger number of fire alarm systems are being installed in commercial and larger residential properties helping to trigger the increase. "These alarm systems will malfunction or will be set off for some reason. Consequently, we've seen a lot of those calls."

On the flip side, he said the actual number of fires and their severity the last several years have been decreasing, which is a direct reflection of the age of the city. "We are a fairly new city as far as age of structures, being more up to code, and with the built in fire protection now days, fires don't get our hand as quickly, so we are seeing less severe fires."

Schatschneider said the West Fargo Fire Department's volunteer squad responded to 233 calls for service throughout the city in 2010, compared to 216 in 2009. A breakdown of calls includes: 30 for fires; three rescues; 30 for hazardous conditions, including gas spills, gas leaks, downed power lines, and arcing electrical equipment; four service calls for water problems and assisting other agencies; 37 good intent calls for smoke scares, dispatched and cancelled; 98 for false calls, malicious or mischievous, alarm malfunctions and system activations; and 18 for severe weather and citizens complaints.

As for actual fires, crews responded to six building fires, two cooking, nine vehicle, six trash dumpster or waste, three grass and brush, and four outside equipment.

Dollar losses for these fires amounted to: $149,480 for buildings; $37,500 vehicles, $133,000 equipment, and other fires $40,300. 

Schatschneider said the total dollar loss for fires of $360,280 was slightly less than last year.  One of the more unusual statistics was that four of the vehicle fires occurred one evening during a four-hour time period, caused by an arsonist never apprehended.

In the rural area served, which includes Reed, Raymond, Mapleton and Barnes Townships, West Fargo fire crews responded to 42 calls for service in 2010 compared to 26 for 2009.  Of those calls, 25 were fires, six rescues, one each for hazardous conditions and service, five for good intent, and four false calls. Broken down by townships, Barnes had one call; Mapleton 20, Raymond seven and Reed eight.

The department also provided mutual aid assistance a total of six times to other fire departments.

A breakdown of the rural service fires included: five for buildings, two vehicles, six brush and grass, six trash or dumpsters, four outside equipment, and two for other. Total dollar loss was $533,496 which was up substantially from 2009 because of the two farm equipment fires, which accounted for $456,950 of the amount. Other fire losses included: building $25,346, vehicle $6000, and other $45,200.