Fire Chief: Thank you residents, who have supported fire department in time of increased calls
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the West Fargo City Commission and the residents of West Fargo for supporting the fire department. July has been one of the busiest months, in one of the busiest years, in the department's history.
This increase in calls is not unexpected and we have been adapting since I began in 2015. We are going through a reorganization of the department this coming year, including several promotions and hires, and tasks such as updating policy and procedure and standard operating guidelines.
These much-needed changes are bringing an increase need for tax-based funding. We want to be open with our residents that this increase will almost double the budget of the fire department. The supporting numbers highlighting this need are staggering: a 182 percent increase in taxable value over 10 years, a more than 34 percent population increase in the past 10 years, and a 161 percent call-volume increase for fire and rescue calls alone since 2005.
We aren't the same department we were two years ago, and we will not be the same department five years from now. Our new "norm" focuses on adaptability, efficiency and standards.
In short, change is our new normal.
Our 2018 budget allows us to meet new standards our leadership team has deemed most important to the continued success of the City of West Fargo. These standards include:
• A minimum of 13 firefighters available, either in station or on call, 24 hours a day.
• Five firefighters on scene within nine minutes 90 percent of the time for all emergent fire calls for service.
• Two firefighter/EMT's on scene within six minutes 90 percent of the time for all emergent
• medical calls for service.
• An additional eight firefighters on scene for working fires and sustained rescue incidents within 13 minutes 90 percent of the time
• A mutual aid crew of four firefighters called in for all working incidents.
The department will transition to a hybrid career/volunteer system to meet these standards, while maintaining a lower tax burden than similarly sized communities at $45.48 a year per resident or just 12 cents a day. That is nearly half the cost per resident in Fargo and Moorhead. The planning process for this change has spanned twenty-four months and several planning processes, such as our Strategic Plan and our Staffing Master Plan. Your West Fargo Fire Department will be a more robust, all-hazards emergency service and exemplify a modern fire department.
These types of budget increases are very rarely seen in municipal governments. However, other
municipalities haven't been as fortunate in terms of growth. Please be assured that the 2018 budget reflects the needs of the community and will be carefully managed by dedicated city employees who give more when more is asked of them, and guided by dedicated elected leaders who feel your safety is a No. 1 priority.
Together, we are committed to meeting the needs of this "city on the grow."
Chief Daniel Fuller
West Fargo Fire Department