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Andrea Domaskin, Published October 10 2007

Fargo could help Jamestown in fire emergency

If the Jamestown (N.D.) Fire Department needs help after fire destroyed some of its equipment, Fargo firefighters will be there.

So could firefighters from Bismarck and Valley City, N.D., Jamestown Fire Chief Bert Gray said Tuesday.

Departments from the three cities offered mutual assistance after a fire on Oct. 3 damaged a metal storage building containing Jamestown Fire Department equipment for dealing with hazardous materials, he said.

“We just want to know if we have something come down on us, we can reach out somewhere,” Gray said.

Damage estimates are still being compiled. Gray said the damage to the building and contents could total $300,000. A cause has not yet been determined.

The department salvaged materials it uses for low-level situations, but the suits firefighters use for high-level hazardous materials responses cannot be saved.

Gray isn’t sure how the department will replace the equipment.

That means Jamestown firefighters can still cordon off the perimeter of a spill, and they can take other, mid-level actions. But they can’t suit up for the big stuff.

“If we had something out here involving our railroad or a large vehicle involving hazardous materials, we would ask Fargo and Bismarck,” Gray said.

Cavendish Farms, a Jamestown potato plant, has informally offered assistance with its own hazardous materials equipment, Gray said.

Fargo Fire Chief Bruce Hoover said he called Gray the day after the fire to offer assistance. He said he’d appreciate such an offer if the Fargo department found itself in that situation.

Fargo city commissioners approved the agreement, which states that if either department needs assistance, the other department will assist for free.

Though Fargo is 90 miles from Jamestown, Hoover said mutual aid could be helpful for operations that go on for an extended period of time.

“We don’t expect that we’d go out there for a house fire or anything like that,” he said.

Fargo also has mutual assistance agreements with neighbors West Fargo, Horace, N.D., and Moorhead. After Sept. 11, 2001, it formed agreements with Sioux Falls, S.D., and Bismarck as part of its plan to react to large-scale events, Hoover said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Andrea Domaskin at (701) 241-5556 Fargo could help Jamestown in fire emergency Andrea Domaskin 20071010