As Hector International Airport
expanded, the mission of the North Dakota Air National
Guard’s 119th Wing firefighters grew. Now, 56 years
after the original building went up to handle aircraft
emergencies in Fargo, N.D., a new Crash/Fire/Rescue
building is ready to meet challenges into the future.
Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk,
North Dakota adjutant general, Col. Rick Gibney, 119th
Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Mark Solem, 119th
Wing fire chief, led a dedication ceremony today to
officially open the new $6.5 million building, which was
funded by the U.S. Air Force. Also speaking were Sen.
John Hoeven, Congressman Rick Berg and Retired Maj. Gen.
"Our mission in the North Dakota
National Guard is to protect lives and property,"
Sprynczynatyk said. "That can be accomplished in many
ways on a global scale and here at home. With regard to
this new building, we're taking a big step forward in
continuing to fulfill that mission in Fargo on a daily
basis. By more than doubling the building size and
positioning it more strategically for airport expansion,
we are ready to assist Hector Field with emergencies for
many years into the future."
The former fire hall spanned just
10,700 square feet, making it impossible to store all of
the equipment required for a force of that size inside,
which became particularly challenging during winter
months. At 22,400 square feet, the new building has 13
bays to house all of the station's equipment, from a
foam trailer for fuel fires to a vacuum trailer for fuel
spills, as well as equipment needed for confined space
extraction and the necessary safety equipment and
breathing apparatuses for the firefighters. There are 10
sleeping rooms, a small gym and a kitchen for the
firefighters, 29 of which work full-time with others
serving as traditional Airmen.
"As commander of the base, I can't
tell you how proud I am and how grateful I am to the
people that made this magnificent, world-class facility
possible," Gibney said. "To me, the profession of
firefighting is one of the most noble, most respected
professions in today's society."
The building also achieves high
environmental standards, and is expected to be certified
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)
Silver by the U.S. Green Building Council. It uses high
standards in both lighting and geothermal energy, as
well as rainwater collection for irrigation.
Beyond the structure, the
building's location is instrumental to the department's
response. The 119th Wing handles all aircraft
emergencies, both civilian and military, at Hector. The
location of the 1950s-era building to the south made it
difficult to reach some locations of the airport - which
is larger now than it was then - in the time allotted
for proper response. Now, firefighters can respond from
the new building to the entire airport in less time, and
will be able to continue to do so should the airport
grow. Additional space also is available to expand the
fire hall building in the future, should it be needed.
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks on America, the
North Dakota National Guard has mobilized nearly 3,800
Soldiers and more than 1,800 Airmen in support of the
Global War on Terrorism. Currently, about 175 North
Dakota Guardsmen are serving overseas while more than
4,000 remain in the state for emergency response and
national defense. For every 10,000 citizens in
North Dakota, 65 serve in the North Dakota National
Guard, a rate that’s more than four times the national