Let me start by saying; Happy Spring.

We have a lot to celebrate this May, Mother’s day, Memorial Day, warmer weather and over 125,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Cass County.

April has been quite dry at the beginning of the month and we hope that we find a happy medium with moisture. This will let us enjoy outdoor activities which include recreational fires.

I would like to let everyone become aware of the rebranding of our fire prevention unit, which will be called “Community Risk Reduction Division” (CRR). Travis Olson from our office is our Community Risk Reduction Officer (CRRO) and he will take on this responsibility.

The mission of the CRR Division is to identify and prioritize risks, select and implement strategies, monitor and evaluate activities, and involve community partners. The end goal is to better protect residents and firefighters.

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As a fire department employee, we are expected to cover many facets of emergencies in our daily work. This ranges from putting out fires, fire prevention, fire investigation, EMS calls, hazardous materials, rescue operations (water, high angle, and collapse) and many more. We also do community service work, which includes block parties, local events, and we have taken many cats out of trees.

As you can see, a firefighter’s duties are endless. Please don’t misunderstand, we are all happy to respond when called upon but if some repeat calls can be slowed or eliminated it will help everyone involved.

The mission of the CRR officer is to add assess our work in the community and fill any areas that fire service that has previously missed or underserved. The majority of areas where we could provide more assistance in prevention are for repeated calls such as falls, fire alarms (burnt food), and individuals who are not able to care for themselves. Some of these grey areas are when a person needs assistance but not from an emergency service like the fire department or an ambulance.

This position enables our CRR Officer to not only teach others but to provide valuable resources to those in need that previously would fall through society’s cracks.

An example of CRR would be an individual who falls on a regular basis and cannot get back up on their own. They would call 911 and the fire department would arrive to assist in getting them comfortable and situated, because in this case they don’t need medical attention. If fire crews feel there is a need, or if they continue to get calls to any one individual, they would contact the CRR Officer.

The CRR Officer would then call this person and visit with them to see what the problem they may be having. Sometimes the individual just needs additional resources (grab bars, remove rugs they are tripping on, scooter, walkers, etc.) which the CCR Officer can point the resident in the direction to receive help. Sometimes it may be getting outside agencies involved to set up part time care.

These grey areas that normally go unnoticed are picked up by our CRR officer to put the piece back in the puzzle. What this really means is we could assist in keeping an individual safe, productive and independent by helping them troubleshoot issues and putting them in touch with organizations who can help.

As of this date the CRR officer has helped with new American’s (teaching, ride shares, etc.), providing assistance to dementia patients, individuals who can no longer care for themselves, and putting those in need in touch with mental health agencies.

Why am I writing this article? I want people to understand that putting out fires is not the only mission of the West Fargo Fire Department. However, the most important message we want to tell the public is if you know of someone in need of assistance, please contact us so we can try to get them the help they need and deserve.

Thank you for your time and have a fire safe month.