Every month KX features a first-responder unit, highlighting those who are dedicated to serving the community, in our KX Gives Back series. This month, we met with members of the Mandan Rural Fire Department who have been serving about 725 square miles of Morton County for decades.
Members of the Mandan Rural Fire Department say they signed up to help others, like Pat Sweeney, who’s been a firefighter for seven years.
“They’ve showed up in my neighborhood enough times to where I finally felt guilty and thought I’d better help them,” Sweeney said.
Sweeney is just one of the roughly 30-member all-volunteer unit.
“It’s a special breed of people in any kind of volunteering, EMS, first-responders, anything like that,” Fire Chief Lynn Gustin said.
Gustin says his team is a family, covering eastern and southern Morton County, sometimes responding to people they know.
“That’s the bad part about it. You gotta go when someone lost a house or lost a life in a wreck, that’s what’s tough on first responders,” Gustin said.
The department has responded to about 80 calls this year so far, most of which were fires. But the group is prepared for almost anything.
“Carbon dioxide calls in houses to car crashes to grass fires to house fires, they all have a little different element to them, but the big thing with this is getting there, helping people on their worst days,” Lt. Kyle Kirchmeier said.
And now, they’re prepared for something new: grain bin rescues.
The unit recently received grain bin rescue equipment and training through a rural community donation from Farm Credit Services of Mandan.
“You get this equipment, you hope you never have to use it, but it’s good to have on hand,” Gustin said.
Although they haven’t needed to use it, getting the equipment to help more people on their worst days is part of the job.
“We want to save lives and that’s what it’s all about,” Kirchmeier said.
To show our gratitude for the department’s hard work and service to the community, KX gave the Mandan Rural Fire Department gift cards to Pizza Ranch. They said they’ll enjoy some pizza after a monthly training session on Thursday.