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N.D. fire department breaks ground on new $3.2M fire station

Bismarck Rural Fire’s new firehouse will have double the apparatus space as well as living quarters

By Brad Nygaard
The Bismarck Tribune

BISMARCK, N.D. — A construction project to expand fire protection for residential and commercial properties on the city’s north side officially began on Wednesday with a groundbreaking ceremony for Bismarck Rural Fire’s new building.

Sporting hardhats, fire department personnel, county commissioners and fire district board members were accompanied by representatives of the project’s contractor and architects as ceremonial spades of dirt were turned on the $3.2 million project near the intersection of U.S. Highway 80 and 71st Street North. The project will expand fire protection services by increasing the number of firefighting apparatus and eventually host firefighters on a 24/7 basis.

Bismarck Rural Fire Department Chief Dustin Theurer said Wednesday’s groundbreaking was “a very good day.”

“A longtime coming,” he said. “I can’t thank the County Commission enough for as gracious as they have been.”

Burleigh County commissioners committed $2.9 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.

ARPA, the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package passed by Congress to aid economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic, was signed into law by President Joe Biden in spring 2021. It has allocated millions of dollars to political subdivisions such as Burleigh County for various public projects.

Figures provided by Burleigh County show it received $18.5 million in ARPA funds that must be pledged by the end of 2024 and spent by the end of 2026. Other projects that commissioners have pledged money to include $603,000 for renovations at the County Courthouse and roughly $7 million for redevelopment of the Provident Building.

Commission Chairman Brian Bitner said the decision to spend money on a project that expands fire protection in the rapidly growing area just north of Bismarck was an easy one to make.

“Taking care of people’s lives and safety, that’s pretty high on the priority list,” he said.

Bitner also mentioned the potential lifesaving capabilities offered by having a staffed fire station closer to an ever-growing population, as well as potential savings on insurance premiums for owners of homes and commercial properties.

“We felt it was a need up here as it’s continuing to grow, and we felt it was a justified use of the funding,” Bitner said.

While Wednesday’s groundbreaking marked the project’s beginning, Theurer said real progress is still a ways off. Site preparation won’t begin in earnest until mid-July and steel for the building’s construction won’t begin going up until September if all goes according to the construction schedule, he said.

Scheduled for completion in early 2025, the new fire station will eventually accommodate four pieces of firefighting apparatuses, doubling the existing capacity of two. Building plans also include room to house firefighters including bedrooms, a kitchen, a day room and other amenities found in fire stations across the country.

The only rural fire station currently staffed on a full-time basis in Bismarck is at 5800 E. Main Ave. However, Theurer said long-term plans include staffing the new facility in the same manner. This staffing will decrease response times but will also require additional personnel as the department’s budget allows.

Bismarck Rural Fire employs 10 full-time firefighters, two chiefs and 24 part-time firefighters. Upon completion of the new station, the existing facility will be offered for sale and removed from the property, Theurer said.

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