What a Resource!

Written by: Rodney Wilson

Last week I was able to spend an evening watching as the Minot Air Force Base Force fire department played host to the Glenburn Rural Fire Department in a joint exercise.

In March of 2021, the Glenburn Fire Department building that housed their trucks and equipment suffered an early morning fire. Lost was a majority of their equipment, including 7 vehicles. Fire Chief Mike Overton and the rest of the Glenburn volunteer fire department were charged with replacing not only the building, but everything else lost in the fire. You can imagine the hours that were put into bringing the department back online. But with the help of many other local departments, and the community, a new fire hall was built to serve the Glenburn area.

The purpose of live burn training is to maintain readiness and give fire protection service members a realistic experience of fire before charging into an emergency situation. Minot Air Force base fire protection specialists don’t just act on Air Force bases, but assist civilian fire departments when needed as well. U.S. Air Force photo I Airman 1st Class Alexander Nottingham

For the Minot Air Force Base Fire department, volunteer fire departments in small communities are of strategic importance. In the case of a fire in a missile launch control center, like the one that happened near Parshall, the local fire departments were first on the scene. A total of 4 volunteer departments fought that fire, and later were given recognition by Minot Air Force Base for their professionalism.

There are 23 volunteer fire departments in northwest North Dakota that have contracts with the Minot Air Force Base Fire Department, and these agreements are important. The most common statement made while I was watching the exercise was “we couldn’t do it without them.”

On the other side, the Glenburn volunteer fire department side, there was an overwhelming flood of appreciation for these volunteers to be able to have access to not only the MAFB facility, but the expertise of the base fire department. Larger departments, like Minot, have training facilities, but coordination of a joint exercise takes time. This exercise was over 30 days in the planning. The time? Well, I don’t speak for all of the volunteers of the Glenburn Fire Department, but I am sure that for many of them, the exercise had to be scheduled after 5 PM, and it was after their workday.

The exercise started around 7:15 PM and lasted well into the evening. The highlight would be the training that the Glenburn volunteers would get on a B 52 jet simulator. An airplane crash in a field is something that does not happen often, yet Glenburn is one of the closest departments in location to Minot Air Force Base. Not completely out of the question that an airplane could “plop down in their back yard” according to one of the MAFB firefighters.

Firefighters and first responders are a very close knit community. Providing and receiving training is vital to their success. That’s what the time and resources provided by the Minot Air Force Base to the Glenburn Fire Department is so important. Like one of the firefighters said as he was visiting with me, “let’s work out the kinks here, where we can practice, and not out on a fire event where we don’t have the ability to change things.”

So, from the outside looking in, the training exercise was certainly a success. I am sure there are kinks to iron out, but the next time these two departments meet could be on a fire call that requires them both. Time and resources well spent.

Best Kept Secrets
A lot of times my best kept secrets kind of jump out at me. It may be something that I see or do every day and take for granted. My passion is the outdoors, and summertime you will find me sailing my CAL 27 Sailboat with my wife, Sue. The reason we sail? We love the peace and tranquility of being away from the crowds. At night we take in the vast star scape above our heads. The big and little dipper, and the many other constellations that make up the vast North Dakota sky. So, my best kept secret, now that it is getting dark a little earlier, is the North Dakota sky. Grab a jacket and head outdoors this fall. The cooler air provides for a clear view. The internet is absolutely full of information on constellations and star information. I have an old chart that I use; whatever is easiest for you. And don’t forget to show the kids the stars. It is amazing how quickly they catch on.

Today’s Chuckle
We have to be strong for our children, so it’s best to wait until they go to school to start your uncontrollable sobbing.

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