Posted 5/13/14 (Tue)
By Stephanie Norman
Farmer Staff Writer
With taller buildings, apartment complexes, hotels and more people residing in Watford City than ever before, the Watford City Fire Department believes it is time for a new ladder truck.
Pat Fitzgerald, with the Watford City Fire Department, spoke to the Watford City City Council about the need for the new ladder truck and asked for help to purchase the $1 million engine.
With an impact grant of $80,000, which includes the down payment on the truck, the city council approved helping to cover some of the remainder of the purchase price.
“There has been a committee set up doing research on this for a while,” Council Member Justin Voll said. He made a motion to “go with the committee’s recommendation to the council to purchase this ladder truck.”
Fitzgerald said the ladder truck is 48½ feet long, has a rear basket, and the entire Watford City Fire Department will receive free training on the truck after it is delivered.
“With this truck, we will be able to spray down into houses off the ladder instead of putting someone on a ladder that’s leaning on a burning house,” Fitzgerald said. “It will really come in handy with all of the new hotels, apartments and office buildings.”
Annual maintenance and upkeep on the truck will run between $3,000 to $5,000 per year, Fitzgerald said.
Not only is the fire department adding equipment, but the Watford City Police Department is also looking to configure a new K9 position for one of the officers to specialize in handling the new K9 dog they received.
According to Assistant Police Chief Jessie Wellen, the department is also looking to have an officer on duty at Watford City High School more permanently.
During the month of May, all officers with the city will receive Domestic Violence Law Enforcement Training. Because domestic violence is increasing with the population, Wellen said it’s important for the officers responding to calls to be educated on how to handle these cases.
Wellen gave the council a brief rundown regarding calls into the department, crime reports and citations. Calls into the department, according to Wellen, are up from 417 last year at this time to 529 this year. There were 94 crime reports last month and 314 citations, which is up from 246 last year.
The local law enforcement agencies continue to transport the arrested criminals to surrounding counties due to the lack of space here and construction on the county jail. Another thing that Wellen said regarding this topic is, “We are putting a lot of miles and wear and tear on our vehicles just to transport people.”
At the county commissioner meeting last week, ICON Architect Group presented a jail proposal to the commissioners that would house 43 prisoners.
Sheriff John Fulwider said, “That size facility could be filled within days.”
There is talk at the county level of building a new jail in McKenzie County, but nothing is set in stone.