Capt. Don Friesz and his half-century of fighting fires

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Half a century of dedicating his time to the Mandan Rural Fire Department.

Capt. Don Friesz is now in his 50th year with the department, which covers about 750 square miles.

That’s one of the largest covered by any department in the state.

“Time is not on our side,” said Friesz.

He’s taken time in stride.

“There were only three pieces of equipment and our PPE. Personal protective gear was nothing to behold compared to what we have now,” he said.

Friesz has enjoyed helping others.

At home, when the alarm sounds for a fire, his wife, Carlene, takes it all in stride.

“Well, she hollers at me ‘be safe,’ I do what I have to do and come back safe, hopefully,” Friesz said.

Mandan Rural Fire Department’s Fire Chief, Lynn Gustin, has served on the department for more than 40 years.

“He was my trainer, has been a mentor for me all these years. I love the guy,” said Gustin.

So, when will it be time to put away his protective gear?

“My body will tell me that, that’s for sure, As long as I’m in good health and feel good, I’m going to stay for a while…if they’ll have me,” Friesz said.

From all signs, it appears the rest of the department is more than willing to keep him around for whenever duty calls.

Firefighting runs in the Friesz family. His two sons have firefighting experience as does his son-in-law.

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