Nearly two years ago we published an article expressing our view that the City of Mandan has its priorities out of whack when it comes to fire protection. In a nutshell, we came to that conclusion due to the fact that they chose to build a $23 million sports complex instead of a $2.5 million fire hall. This took place despite pleas from Mandan Fire Chief Steve Nardello for the additional fire protection.
At the time, the city’s finance director even had the audacity to suggest that the fire hall was nixed because there was no money to staff it. How such a thing can be said with a straight face, while building an 84,000 square foot sports complex, is simply unbelievable.
I thought of all this recently when news hit of a 42-unit apartment building catching fire in Mandan. As you’ll see in this report from the Bismarck Tribune, firefighters ended up running out of water fairly quickly due to an inoperable private fire hydrant. The question is now being asked if less damage would have taken place if the department would have had a better water supply.
While I believe the faulty hydrant was undoubtedly a factor in the amount of damage ultimately done to the building, we’re still left with the reality that Mandan’s fire department probably isn’t what it should be. Consider this paragraph from the aforementioned Bismarck Tribune article:
“As the fire intensified, the Mandan Fire Department requested aid from the Mandan Rural Fire Department, the Bismarck city and rural fire departments and the Marathon Refinery Fire Department. Firefighters also were joined by the Metro Area Ambulance Service and the American Red Cross. Firefighters remained on scene until nearly 10 p.m. Sunday.”
If the information I’ve been given is correct, the Mandan Fire Department only has three firefighters on duty at a given time. Aside from the inoperable hydrant, isn’t it fair to ask how the outcome might have been different if Chief Nardello had been given the additional fire protection he’s been asking for since 2014?
By the way, just how was it that they accessed the water they needed after running out? According to the Mandan Fire Department:
“Crews established an additional water supply hose line using a different fire hydrant located at the north end of the apartment complex.”
Is it possible they might have accessed that water supply sooner if the Mandan Fire Department had the additional fire hall and firefighters?
I can’t help but still shake my head at the City of Mandan. Not only did they choose a sports complex over needed fire protection, but they’re home to the state’s first needle exchange program for drug addicts and they spend their time wrapped up in a legal dispute over a harmless mural on a local business. Heck, that’s not even mentioning their cronyistic tax breaks and plans to change Main Street to three lanes.
I stand where I did nearly two years ago— Mandan’s priorities are out of whack.