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New Airport Fire Station is Dedicated
August 31, 2011

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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.

Ribbon Cutting CeremonyMaj. 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. Alexander Macdonald.

"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 average


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