While the Dickinson Fire Department’s response times improved over 2015 compared to the year prior, they still fall below the recommendations of the National Fire Protection Association.

Fire Department Chief Bob Sivak and Deb Barros, assistant fire chief of support services, began their department’s annual report for 2015 at the regular meeting of the Dickinson City Commission Monday night with some statistics of performance and calls for service.

Barros said the NFPA recommends 15 firefighters respond on scene within nine minutes of a call for 90 percent of incidents in a community of Dickinson’s size.

The Dickinson Fire Department, Barros continued, responds within nine minutes about 69 percent of the time -- up about 6 percent from 2014 -- and typically with less than the recommended manpower.

Barros noted the one time the department responded to an incident with the full 15 firefighters in under nine minutes was in fighting the fire that broke out last September in the Wecker Building in downtown Dickinson.

The Wecker Building fire, along with the fire at R&R Auto Farm & Electric’s, was one of the most expensive fires, in terms of damages, in the city in 2015. The two fires together amounted to a total of an estimated $800,000 in losses.

Barrows said response statistics should improve with the addition of the Public Safety Center on north State Avenue, which came opened and became the home of the fire department and the Dickinson Police Department last September.

In addition to a new facility, Chief Sivak said the Dickinson Fire Department also has a relatively new crew.

Of the 44 city firefighters in the department as of the end of 2015, Sivak said, 18 members have been active here for only two years or less.

He said that relatively new part of the crew ensures training as a “top priority.” Over the course of 2015, the department’s firefighters logged 3,685 total hours of training, an increase of almost 1,000 over the previous year.

As training went up, calls for service have gone down -- but at a much lower rate.

Total calls for service topped out at 525 last year, representing a decrease of about 6.5 percent from 2014. Of those calls, Barros said the largest single category was comprised of 173 false alarms. Actual fires accounted for 90 calls.

$1 million construction bid for landfill cell construction approved

The Dickinson Municipal Landfill is getting an upgrade.

Commissioners on Monday approved a bid of more than $1 million from Martin Construction to build a new cell at the city dump.

Public Works Director Gary Zuroff said the landfill improvement project will include the extension of an existing system to manage leachate, a liquid waste byproduct of high garbage volumes, and the addition of a geomembrane, a landfill containment liner.

Zuroff said his department received 10 bids for the project and had even more competitors at the pre-bid session in a marked increase from projects in the past.

Commission President Gene Jackson said the high level of bids could indicate a shift in the local construction market that could result in a good year for city construction projects.

“We should make sure anything we are contemplating for 2016 does get bid, assuming the money is there,” he said. “We should make sure it doesn’t slide, this should be a really good year in that regard.”

NDDOT to share costs for city road project

Costs for summer road construction work on Museum Drive in Dickinson will be shared with the North Dakota Department of Transportation.

City Engineer Craig Kubas introduced a cost participation agreement to the commission Monday that would split the funding obligations of the estimated $1.4 million project on a quarter-mile of road connecting North Dakota Highway 22 and Sims Street in Dickinson.

Under the terms of the agreement, the North Dakota DOT would contribute around $800,000 and the city would pay out the remainder of about $600,000.

Commission members unanimously approved the agreement.

Sidewalk special improvement district approved for 2016

Residents in need of sidewalk improvements on their properties are encouraged to participate in a sidewalk improvement district also approved by the commission Monday night.

Kubas said the city has budgeted $75,000 to conduct improvements to developed properties over the course of this year.

“This is voluntary special improvement district,” he said. “It’ll be city-wide but no property owners will be required to improve their sidewalks with this project.”

Kubas said the only major change made to the district this year is the limiting of the program to developed properties only. Missing sidewalks can be addressed in addition to the repair of existing walkways, he said.