In 1940, a group of residents in the village of Southwest Fargo saw a need for fire protection in their area. Approximately fifteen people worked together to lay the groundwork to acquire a building and equipment for a fire department. The department was funded by donations, fund drives and an annual Fireman’s Ball. A single stall garage was moved on to the present location and was remodeled by the volunteer firemen. In the spring of 1941 a 1936 Ford pumper was purchased at a cost of less than $2000. In March of that year the department officially joined the North Dakota Fireman’s Association. The annual dues at that time were only $5.25
As the village continued to grow the Fire Department needed more equipment and space. Through donations enough funds were raised to construct a heated, permanent building. A two stall concrete block building was constructed on the site in 1950. As more residents moved in, more equipment had to be added and the fire hall increased in size. In 1961, three more stalls were added along with office space for the City Commission. In 1966, an addition was added to the north side of city offices to house the police department and the fire phone. This was installed in the office for faster service on fire calls. In 1967, the Fire Department added an office-meeting/training room, a kitchen to the west side of the building and updated the emergency vehicles. Then in 1967, a special election, the residents voted to become the City of West Fargo.
In 1973, with a population of approximately 6,000 people, the Fire Department decided it was time to hire full time personnel to properly administer North Dakota’s Fire Codes, conduct training for volunteers and maintain the equipment. Roger Olson was hired to serve as Fire Chief and Herb Foley was the Fire Inspection and Prevention Officer. The City of West Fargo grew steadily and in 1979, another 4,000 square foot addition, that included a larger meeting/training room, was added. More equipment and trucks were also purchased.
Herb Foley retired in 1980 and Roy Schatschneider was hired as the Fire Inspection Officer. The volunteer force was now 40 members strong. Regular training sessions were held the first and third Tuesdays of every month and the North Dakota Firefighter I and II classes were conducted on the off Tuesdays. At one time there were 38 volunteers that were certified in both FF I and FF II. Chief Olson retired at the end of 1992, after 35 years of service to the department, 23 years as both a volunteer and a paid Chief. Roy Schatschneider was hired as the Chief and Dell Sprecher was hired as the Fire Inspection Officer. During this period the number of volunteers varied between 35 and 40. May 1, 2003, the Fire Department added a new full time position, hiring Kendel Frost as a Fire Inspection Officer and Assistant Training Officer.
The mid to late 1990’s saw a huge expansion in the City of West Fargo, both in commercial and residential areas. In order to keep pace, the officers and Board of Directors of the Department explored the possibility of another addition to the Fire Hall. A 12,500 foot addition and renovation was approved and begin in the spring of 1999. In the middle of January 2000, the first meeting was held in the new meeting room. Volunteers and life members of the department gathered to celebrate the nearly completed project. Hundreds of volunteer hours were used to finish the new offices, truck bays, bathrooms, kitchen, and meeting room. The building is now a 14,000 square foot facility that houses three fire engines, two tankers, a mini pumper, a rescue truck, a brush truck, the Chief’s vehicle, a rescue boat, and two parade vehicles. In October 2000, the public was invited to an open house so they could see what the volunteers had accomplished.
In 2015, Chief Schatschnider retired after 22 years as chief and over thirty years total service. Daniel Fuller, a captain from the Minot Rural Fire Department was hired as the Chief. In 2016, Chief Fuller led a Strategic Planning process that recommended additional full time staff be hired to close a widening gap in response time. The research for the plan identified two main reasons why response time had begun to get longer; a widening footprint of the city and increase traffic during peak times of the day. The strategic plan also identified the completion of the second floor of the Southside Fire Station for 24 hour manning and the purchase of a light rescue truck to begin providing Emergency Medical Service to the city as top priorities.
In 2017, the department held its first ever hiring process for eight full time firefighter/EMT positions. A total of thirty eight candidates completed a written test, physical agility course, and structured interview. A new light rescue was bid and ordered for delivery in early 2018, and members of the department began completing Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) training. Additionally, a restructuring of the department was accomplished, creating a 58 person roster with fourteen career members and forty-four volunteers with an overhead of the Fire Chief (FT) , Assistant Fire Chief (Vol), a volunteer Battalion Chief for the Central Station, a fulltime Battalion Chief for the Southside Station, three volunteer Captains at the Central Station, three volunteer Captains and two fulltime Captains at the Southside Station.