JFD faces many challengesHopes for a new fire station in Jamestown were doused last month when a grant that would have helped cover the cost was rejected, said Fire Chief Jim Reuther. The proposed station in south Jamestown would have provided quicker responses to emergencies on Interstate 94, centrally located vehicles in a growing part of town and a better location for the department’s hazardous materials equipment, Reuther said.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
Hopes for a new fire station in Jamestown were doused last month when a grant that would have helped cover the cost was rejected, said Fire Chief Jim Reuther.
The proposed station in south Jamestown would have provided quicker responses to emergencies on Interstate 94, centrally located vehicles in a growing part of town and a better location for the department’s hazardous materials equipment, Reuther said.
The Assistance to Firefighters Station Construction Grant, part of the federal economic stimulus, would have covered most of the new station’s $850,000 price tag.
The low employment rate North Dakota had in July 2009, when the application was submitted, was one factor, he said. Another factor was that the grant required detailed plans that would have cost additional funds to compile. The Fire Department only had preliminary plans
“A fire department is like a business, we have to provide a service to our customers,” Reuther said.
Other funding opportunities for a new station will be explored, he said.
The need for service outside of Jamestown is also growing. That can be seen with the need for Regional Response, a program designed to help smaller communities without resources, Reuther said.
Regional Response can be making phone calls to coordinate efforts or it can involve sending firefighters and equipment. One recent example was the deployment of the Jamestown Dive and Rescue Team in the search for Joshua Blahna in late April and early May.
Regional Response can be troublesome for the department depending on staff availability, the time of the call and the location and the duration of the call, Reuther said. Keeping Jamestown safe is the No. 1 priority for the fire department, he said.
One asset the Jamestown Fire Department has is experience, he said. Four firefighters have been with the department for a combined total of more than 150 years.
But no one can fight fires forever and retirements are part of life, which is why Reuther is looking for more recruits.
Currently, the Jamestown Fire Department has five full-time employees and 33 volunteers. Reuther said he’d like to have a total of 40 people. Interested applicants can pick up information at the fire hall.
After an application is filled out, there is an interview, background check, physical, agility test, written test and six months of probation while training and learning how to use the equipment.
Keeping members of the department up to date on training is another concern Reuther said he has.
“My plan is always to make sure our department can get the adequate training to keep our firefighters safe and it will be until the day I retire from this office,” he said.
Members of the department go to the National Fire Academy and the state fire academy. The firefighters then share the knowledge with the rest of the department.
The last struggle that faces the Fire Department is people who follow fire engines and crowd the scene.
Reuther wanted people to put themselves in the shoes of the people affected by the fire.
Problems continue on the way to the fire as well as at the scene, he said.
“The biggest thing we ask for is when people see the flashing lights and sirens, is to pull off to the right and give us a chance to get through,” he said.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at email@example.com