More local firefighters answer call to MoorheadA call from the state fire marshal’s office for 100 firefighters to help with flooding efforts in the Fargo-Moorhead area was quickly filled by area firefighters the last two weeks.
By: Celeste Beam, Alexandria Echo Press
A call from the state fire marshal’s office for 100 firefighters to help with flooding efforts in the Fargo-Moorhead area was quickly filled by area firefighters the last two weeks.
As reported last Friday, Scott Schaefer, chief of the Brandon Fire Department, organized a group of firefighters from around Douglas County to go to Moorhead to help out with flood relief efforts.
Schaefer, who is also the fire training coordinator for Alexandria Technical College, shared some insights into the effort made by local men and women who serve on local fire departments.
Fire departments from Brandon, Garfield, Kensington, Parkers Prairie, Miltona, Evansville and Forada received a request to deploy at about 5:30 p.m. on Friday, March 27. Schaefer said the following facts were known prior to their departure: Volunteers would need to bring turnout gear, a life preserver and a sleeping bag.
He noted that the firefighters had no idea what they would be doing once they arrived in the Moorhead area or how long they would even be there.
By 7 p.m. that same night, those who were interested in going had rearranged their schedules, packed and were at the meeting area, ready to leave, he said.
“A majority of those people drove their personal vehicles, knowing that there would not be any compensation for fuel,” noted Schaefer.
Two of the departments were fortunate enough to have command vehicles that they drove up there, which was necessary, said Schaefer, in order to travel from one location to the next once the group arrived in Moorhead.
He noted that this was not a one-time deployment for the firefighters.
At the time of the state fire marshal’s request, there were some departments, including Alexandria and Osakis, which already had personnel and equipment in Moorhead. This is why firefighters from these two departments did not deploy with the other Douglas County area departments, said Schaefer.
Area departments had been sending people to the Fargo-Moorhead area, along with the Breckenridge area, steadily throughout the previous weeks.
Many of the firefighters made multiple trips to both areas to help, Schaefer noted, adding that he was “extremely impressed” with the response from this area.
“Our firefighters responded immediately,” said Schaefer. “Every department that responded did so with very respectable numbers. They responded as a group of Douglas County firefighters rather than a bunch of individual fire departments. It is extremely impressive to witness this type of unity.”
Once the firefighters arrived on scene, Schaefer said they were quickly sent to work repairing damaged dikes and strengthening sandbag walls that were beginning to fail.
“Our group worked extremely hard and they were able to exceed the expectations their officers had of them and they had pretty high expectations,” said Schaefer.
He noted that the need for volunteers is not over and that area fire departments will likely continue to send personnel and resources over the next couple of weeks to the flooded areas.
The deployment of firefighters was only a portion of the overall effort that Douglas County has made to the Fargo-Moorhead and Breckenridge areas.
One last item that Schaefer explained is that there is no compensation for the firefighters who have been helping out.
“They take time off of work, take time away from their families, pay for their own fuel and food,” he said. “Many of them have made several trips to help out, sometimes going as fire department representatives and sometimes going as general volunteers. None of them are looking for any type of personal recognition. They know what they did was a good thing and that is enough.”