The mission of the Bismarck Rural Fire Department is to provide skillful fire suppression services that protect life and safeguard property, professional emergency medical care to maintain a good quality of life for all people, and participate in educational and safety related community programs that foster friendly partnerships designed to improve the well-being of all those they serve.
Their fire district includes 13 townships in Burleigh County that are immediately outside of Bismarck city limits. Also included within those townships are the cities of Lincoln and Menoken as well as the University of Mary. Covering an area of about 474 square miles, preceding Fire Chief Michael Voigt knows there have been some big changes in his 20 year history with the department.
The fire district was established in 1953 as a 100% volunteer organization and has since transitioned to 12 full-time employees and 15 part-time employees who provided services 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days each year. Voigt started in April of 1999 as a volunteer fire fighter and over the years worked his way up in both skill and experience. He was promoted to the rank of Captain in 2005 and continued at that level through 2015 until he took the full-time position as fire chief in February of 2016.
“We always have a minimum of two people working at all times and sometimes more depending on what may be going on. We handle all of the fires that breakout in our jurisdiction as well as automobile extrication, heavy rescue, hazmat response, medical call response, and prevention services. We partner with the North Dakota Fire Marshalls Office to do inspections at the University of Mary, the Adventist Academy and for new businesses that need occupancy permits. We also ensure the appropriate steps are taken to investigate fires that occur in our fire district. We do darn near everything,” asserts Voigt. The fire department also partners with the Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department to provide water recovery and rescue services not only in Burleigh County but throughout the region. The fire department has specific employees who specialize in things such as recovery diving, ice water rescue, swift water rescue, and boat operating. They also staff a remote operated vehicle team with a robot that is capable of going both under water and under ice for recovery efforts.
Through the years the fire department has grown in both size and service capabilities. While the department is staffed by employees, their staff still knows the value in being appreciated within the community they serve. “Dakota Community Bank & Trust has always been there to work hand in hand with us to meet our needs.” One way of showing continued support has been through an annual grilling event hosted by Dakota Community Bank & Trust (DCB&T) for the department. “When the bank started doing that, it was and continues to be, a really big positive thing for us internally. The whole team loves it and they look forward to it. The bank doesn’t have to do it and my crews know they don’t have to do it. They are very appreciative of the fact that the bank and its people take the time and the resources and the money to think of them. I think that is what really means a lot to them, that ‘Hey, somebody is taking time out of their day to be generous and kind.’ They don’t take that mildly. That means something to them. It helps build their pride and it is just a real positive thing that they are noticed by people in the community.”
Other assistance from DCB&T has come in the form of partnering together, with the fire department and the Firefighters Association, during the holidays to provide families in need with gift cards for food. “All of your employees have been nothing but kind and accommodating to us. Nothing but positive outcomes have resulted. That tells me there is a culture that is either well developed or being well developed within your organization that wants to support this community and the people in it,” announces Voigt. From public education and daycare inspections to all of the services list above, the two stations making up the Bismarck Rural Fire Department really do it all. Employing both full-time professional and part-time fire fighters, their staff is available 24/7 ready to go whenever they get a call. “Anything that any other fire department does, we do as well,” closes Voigt. For public safety information including home fire safety tips, please visit their website at: http://bismarckruralfire.org/.
Written by Lindsey Hefta, Marketing Director