Fire hall to expand: Dickinson Rural Dept. plans updates
The Dickinson Rural Fire Department's north hall is set to get a major renovation. The department announced earlier this week on its Facebook page plans to convert its mostly unused office space into six new bays, bringing the total number to 10,...
The Dickinson Rural Fire Department’s north hall is set to get a major renovation.
The department announced earlier this week on its Facebook page plans to convert its mostly unused office space into six new bays, bringing the total number to 10, in order to increase capacity as calls for service rise.
“We realized quickly that we were running out of room,” said Jeff Thompson, assistant chief and a member of the department’s board.
Plans for an expansion began a couple of years ago, he said. Thompson and other rural fire members considered a number of options, including buying land and building a new space, but “the best option for us was to remodel the north station that we currently own,” he said. “It’s a big expansion.”
Built in 1980, the hall was a joint effort between the city and rural fire departments. Dickinson Rural also operates out of a hall on the south side of the city and provides service to the city's outlying areas; its rescue squad covers all of Stark County.
A number of grants and local donations - including from the recent Rockpile chili cook-off - have allowed the department to purchase “needed equipment,” Thompson said, “since the oil boom has changed what we do.”
In 2013, the department received $500,000 to buy a water pumper truck as part of $12 million in energy impact grants to fire districts and emergency medical services.
“Storing equipment has become ... well, it’s tighter than we like it,” he said.
Fire Chief Andrew Paulson estimates calls for rescue squad service averaged about six per year when he started in 1987. These days, the squad gets closer to 30; total calls for service average about 200 a year.
Even with the Dickinson City Fire Department’s own rescue squad, the rural department has still seen an influx of rescue squad calls, and “dive calls have increased dramatically,” Paulson said.
The types of calls have changed as well, Thompson noted. The last truck the department bought is equipped with a bigger foam system to take on hydrocarbon fires, and newer equipment is capable of handling fires at the new Dakota Prairie refinery west of Dickinson, as well as jets coming into the Dickinson Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport.
“There’s a lot more truck fires, not just wildland or grass fires,” Thompson said. “The amount of calls has definitely increased, and just the equipment needed to do it has changed a little bit.”
The project will go out to bid in a couple of weeks, said Jared Twogood, co-owner of GT Architecture, the firm behind the renovations’ design. He said the office space will be torn down and bays built in its place, the first major overhaul since the building was built.
“They’ve done typical maintenance,” he said. “The building’s in good shape overall.”
The timeline for construction hasn’t been set, but Thompson said he’s hopeful work will come in under $1 million, much of which has come from support from Dunn and Stark Counties, and donations from private oil companies and local organizations.
“That’s where it all comes from,” he said. “A lot of local organizations that have supported us forever that are making this happen.”
Paulson said the new renovation should hold the department for now, but it might not be the last for the rural fire north hall.
“In the future, there may have to be stuff added yet,” he said. “Just like everything else with the growth.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story states that the Dickinson Rural Fire Department covers all of Stark County; only its rescue squad covers this area. The number of annual calls for service was also misstated.
Faulx is a reporter with The Press. Contact her at 701-456-1207.