The West Fargo Fire Department continues to grow almost as fast as the city, with call volumes creating another record in 2019.
Fire Chief Dan Fuller presented his department's annual report at the the City Commission's regular meeting, Monday, March 2, where he told commissioners that in 2019, a total of 57 fires were reported in the city.
"I try to get it out in the first part of the year, " Fuller said of his report. "Just to let everyone know what we've been up to."
Of the 57 fires, 16 were building fires, which are considered the most dangerous to the community.
"Unfortunately, one civilian was killed by fire in 2019, an event that hasn’t occurred within the last 10 years in West Fargo," Fuller said.
Kitchen fires are the main source of fires in the city, Fuller said. Two fires related to lighters and matches caused about $70,000 in damages last year.
The department had a total of 2,133 calls for service, which is up 36 percent from 2018. In 2019, the department began responding to emergency medical calls and logged 1,225 during the year. The department also began using its EMS bicycles, and respondents were able to help with 23 events.
While the department's calls were up, Fuller said the number of calls was still lower per 10,000, than those received by Fargo or Moorhead.
"In 2019, we had 547 calls per 10,000 residents, which is 41.6% lower than Fargo and 41.9% lower than Moorhead," he said.
The department officially became a part of the city and split from the rural department on Jan. 1, at which time the city authorized creating and hiring three new administrative positions within the fire department.
The Fire Department employs 67. Twenty-two are career employees and 45 are part time or “paid on call” workers. Each day, there are 15 employees on call and four on duty in the station assigned to Ladder 75/Squad 75. Another full-time employee is assigned to Battalion 70 as the citywide fire supervisor, and after 5 p.m., that unit is staffed with chief officers who take the unit home and respond to calls.
The department currently has two stations, the Central Fire Station at 106 First Street and the Southside Fire Station, at 445 29th Ave W.
Fuller currently divides the city into six geographical regions based around the two stations. Response times vary by zone, but emergency medical calls varied from 4 minutes, 37 seconds to 8 minutes, 18 seconds. and fire response times varied from 5 minutes, 37 seconds to the highest fire response time of 8 minutes, 32 seconds.
Fuller has said the department would like to build a third station, potentially in the area near Menards, or north of 13th Avenue, and west of 17th Avenue. Ideally, most residents would live within a 1.5-mile radius of a fire station to keep response times down.