‘It changes you’: Fargo Fire Chief describes his team’s lifesaving actions

Fargo Fire Department Headquarters downtown
Published: Jul. 18, 2023 at 6:57 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) -

Friday’s tragedy has impacted the entire Fargo-Moorhead community, especially our first responders. Firefighters were on-the-scene for what seemed like a routine fender bender. They were about to leave the scene and let Fargo police take over, when a man opened fire. The shooter ended up killing a Fargo police officer, critically wounding two others, and injured a bystander.

The Fargo Fire Department jumped into life saving action once the shooter was neutralized by Fargo police.

Fargo Fire Chief, Steve Dirksen says the department requested ballistics gear after the mass shooting that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Adding, “If the cops are in there with their guns and their looking for things, we feel that that’s a good place for us to be, following behind them and get in and start treating people.”

Dirksen also says, “I’m glad that we’ve provided them that level of protection should they need it, but it’s just disappointing that we’re in a point in our world that we have to do that.”

Fargo Police Chief, Dave Zibolski praised the Fargo Fire Department, “Firefighters bounced out and they were applying first aid immediately to our officers, probably had a very significant impact on their survival.”

Even with all the training, skills, and preparation the situation that unfolded on Friday would take a toll on anyone.

“They were visibly, you know they were shaken up, it was you know, not gonna sugar coat anything, it was a tense situation for them,” says Dirksen. He adds, “It changes you though, a day like Friday.”

Dirksen says it’s something anyone looking to become a first responder should think about.

“This is a job that is very difficult...you know going into it you’re going to be placed in difficult situations...you will see bad things that’s part of the nature of the job,” he explains.

Chief Dirksen also says, the public safety agencies throughout the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo community are top-notch. And they all play a role as part of a team to keep our communities safe.

He also mentions that Fire Department employees receive mental health support and the crew on the scene was given the choice to go home for the day or continue their shift.