2015 and beyond
The department researched and wrote its own Strategic Plan in 2016, meant to cover four to five years of growth. Highlights of that plan included addressing the decline of volunteers responding to calls, adding incentive pay for the volunteers, researching the best way to integrate full-time staff into the system, and hiring full-time firefighters no later than July 2019. Other goals included adding a Battalion Chief, light rescue truck for medical calls, and adding a quint to the Southside Fire Station.
Lastly, the plan also called for the remodel of the second floor at the Southside Station to accommodate living quarters for full-time firefighters. What was a five-year plan turned into a three-year plan as call volumes began to compound year after year and staffing was stretched thin.
An office coordinator was hired in August 2018. By the end of 2017, the new apparatus was in service and the hiring process was underway to place eight full-time firefighters and a full-time Battalion Chief at the Southside Fire Station seven days a week, fourteen hours a day.
Throughout 2018, these firefighters responded to calls from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., while volunteers provided additional response to fires and complete response at night. A contractor was hired and the designs approved for the second floor at Southside. A six month project resulted in a complete living quarters remodel with four bedrooms, a kitchen, dayroom, gym, men’s and women’s rooms with showers, and laundry facilities. Other goals included researching a new training facility, replacing all self-contained breathing apparatus, revamping formal training for engineers and officers, and implementing a paperless system for fire inspections.
In the end of 2018, four additional firefighters were hired to make the station operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In 2019, the volunteers were hired as paid on-call employees and placed on a week on, two week off call schedule. The paid on-call firefighters received pay for each 24 hour period spent on call, as well as pay for hours responding, hours filling in shifts, and hours training.
In 2018, the department responded to 1,530 calls for service, up from 334 in 2015. Much of the increase was due to medical emergency calls the department had not previously been responding to.
In mid-2018, West Fargo Fire & Rescue began the process of crafting a new Strategic Plan to carry the department through the next 5 years. The 2016 Strategic Plan had been completed, with 18 of 22 objectives accomplished. The landscape had changed for the City of West Fargo, with the publication and formal adoption of the Comprehensive Plan, West Fargo 2.0. The landscape also changed for the department, as the call volumes continued to rise, well beyond the more aggressive estimates based off 2015 call volumes.
Most importantly, the department transitioned to a municipal department under the governance of the City of West Fargo. The Chief of the Department became an appointed position under the City Commission.