Watford City Fire Department Addressing Growing Needs
The fire call volume in Watford City last month was one of the most active in the volunteer department's history. Fire Chief Oscar Knudtson says the department has responded to about 230 calls this year --- sometimes three to five a day. Watford City has recently purchased a ladder truck -- something Knudtson says he never thought he would see in Watford. The $1.2 million dollar truck -- partially funded by oil impact grants -- is necessary for the four-story buildings going up in the town. Knudtson also has concerns about the 153 crew camps and RV parks in the area. He says as temporary housing ages, be sure to check heat tape, smoke detectors and insulation. (Chief Oscar Knudtson, Watford City Fire Department) "Went through the last oil boom 30 years ago, at that time we had a lot of mobile homes and we would burn up about a mobile home a week. The last couple of winters with campers, not mobile homes, we were anticipating a lot of fire calls but yet they've been rather small in numbers." The volunteer fire department in Watford City is at 34 members -- five were added this month. Knudtson says moving to a paid crew would change the dynamic of the department -- and like other businesses, there would be challenges in recruitment, retention, pay scale and housing. But he says as calls continue to increase, the department may need to hire a core group. (Chief Oscar Knudtson, Watford City Fire Department) "We run a call volume, we don't run EMS, but I'm pretty sure our call volume without EMS would be close to what a lot of career departments see."
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Jump in drug overdose calls in Fargo concern city leaders
Last month, there were about 40 drug overdose cases in Fargo and that has public safety leaders concerned. The information came out of a meeting of a little known panel called the Ambulance Oversight Committee. Police Lt. Joel Vettel says while the number seems high, more won't be known until fire and police compare calls from previous months. That information is not readily available and it could take several weeks before a report is ready for review by city commissioners. Vettel they don't want people to be alarmed that this is an epidemic. He says it's too early to say its the result of heroin, but he says there has been an increase in heroin in the area. No known deaths were reported. Deputy Mayor Tim Mahoney, the city commission representative on the committee, was surprised by the number. The concerns are serious enough that Mahoney wants to explore the possibility of allowing police officers and firefighters to carry Narcan, a medication that can counter-act potentially lethal heroin or prescription drug overdoses.