The Arnegard Fire Department is looking to expand and needs your help.
“Call volumes for this district are up somewhere between 1200 and 1300 percent,” says Rick Schreiber, fire and medical chief of the Arnegard Fire District.
A decade ago, it wasn’t uncommon to have a call volume in the single digits at the Arnegard Fire Department. That’s simply no longer the case.
“As of today, we’re at 79 calls for the district,” says Schreiber.
Construction on a new fire station is expected to begin in spring. The larger space will serve both the fire district’s and community’s needs.
“In the long run, what it’s going to do is allow everybody to get into the station, get their gear on, get the trucks out, without you know, having to fall over each other,” says Schreiber.
The new fire department is projected to cost $1.4 million. So far, slightly more than half that amount has been raised. And while the Arnegard Fire Department is facing a spacing issue, many fire departments across the state are facing staffing issues.
“In the state and across the country, it’s getting harder and harder to recruit, especially volunteer firefighters,” says Schreiber.
The Arnegard Fire Department is 100% volunteer staffed. And according to the NDFA, 96 percent of the roughly 9000 firefighters statewide are volunteers. And the age of those volunteer firefighters is climbing-the average is upper 30s to early 40s.
“Unfortunately in this day and age, people don’t volunteer like they used to,” says Schreiber.
With 22 volunteer and 2 reserve firefighters, the Arnegard Fire Department is fully staffed. But the need is always there.
“In the five years that I’ve been there, we have never said no to volunteer,” says Schreiber.
Both the department and the state are always looking for new recruits.
“If it wasn’t for people like us in these outlying districts out in rural America, imagine if you dialed 911 and no one showed up,” says Schreiber.
And as the firefighters donate their time, the department hopes the community will donate their support for the new department.
The Arnegard Fire District covers 212 square miles. That’s about four times the size of the Fargo Fire District.