1973-2000 West Fargo Fire Department
In 1973, the department added onto the station and hired the first full time employees; a Chief and Fire Inspector. The department was renamed the West Fargo Fire Department as the city incorporated to include the villages of Riverside and Southwest Fargo. Rodger Olson was hired as the first full time Fire Chief and Herb Foley was hired as the first fire inspector. The pair were charged with maintaining and training the fire department, along with ensuring that new commercial construction built within the city was built to fire codes. The hiring coincided with the release of “America Burning” in 1973, a report on the effects of fire on the American public, from loss of life and injury, to financial impacts. Olson, Foley and the entire department began a process to begin to prevent fires in the community, rather than responding and dealing with the aftermath.
Throughout the late seventies and eighties the department remained an independent fire company, responding to fires and emergencies throughout West Fargo and the surrounding rural areas. Another addition to the fire station was completed in 1979. During 1980, Herb Foley retired from the fire department and Roy Schatsnieder was hired as fire inspector. In 1981, the West Fargo Rural Fire Department was formed and the two departments began to share the costs and staffing of the separate organizations through a model of cooperation. The combined departments had 40 volunteers with regular training nights established on Tuesdays. Then in 1992, Chief Olson retired with 35 years of service. Roy Schatsnider was promoted to Chief. Dell Sprecher was hired as the new fire inspector in that year as well.
During the mid to late 1990’s, West Fargo began to expand rapidly after the Sheyenne River Diversion became operational and the risk of catastrophic floods diminished. New neighborhoods began to pop up towards Fargo to the east, Interstate 94 to the south, and the Red River Valley Fairgrounds to the west. This increase in land, housing, and population was met with yet another expansion of the fire station and additional full time hires. A two story addition with two large apparatus bays was complete by early 2000. In 2003, a second full time fire inspector was hired. The department continued to be a volunteer department. Call volumes during the 1990’s ran around 250 per year on average.