Delegation Urges National Guard Chief to Find Workable Solution for Changes to Fire Response Unit that Services Fargo Airport

WASHINGTON – As the North Dakota Air National Guard prepares to stop providing fire response to Hector International Airport in Fargo, Senators Heidi Heitkamp and John Hoeven, as well as Congressman Kevin Cramer, today urged National Guard Bureau Chief Frank Grass to find a workable solution to maintain public safety at the airport until a new fire response system is established.

For decades, the Guard has handled fire response for all flight operations at the airport. However, the Guard informed airport officials that after March 31, 2014, the Guard would no longer be able to provide this service because of the end of the unit’s C-21 mission. The delegation and the Fargo Airport Authority are concerned that this timeline does not offer sufficient time for local officials to develop a plan and obtain new fire response vehicles in order to protect public safety at the airport or at the National Guard base, which uses the same fire response unit as the airport.

“We understand the extreme budget challenges the National Guard faces, but we want to ensure that the airport has enough time to establish a new fire response strategy. We think it’s possible to find a workable solution to this situation and we look forward to working with the Guard, airport leaders and local officials to protect people using the airport, those working there, as well as National Guard members at the nearby base during the transition,” the delegation said in a joint statement.

The delegation, in consultation with the airport and North Dakota National Guard officials, is urging an 18-month extension of the current National Guard fire response mission. If that is not possible due to budget constraints, the delegation suggested prioritizing an agreement which would give the airport access to the Fire Hall and equipment until a new fire response strategy is established.