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Fire Wire: North Pole Fire, Small Department, big responsibility

Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 4:59 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The city of North Pole, Alaska has candy canes, Santas, and around 2,000 people. The North Pole Fire Department is tasked with providing fire protection to the four square mile area and it’s homes and business.

“It’s definitely different because there’s only four of us on shift at a time, so we could be responding on any number of these apparatus during the day and help isn’t necessarily right behind you,” said North Pole firefighter Calla Westcott.

While the fire service area is relatively small, Lieutenant Erik Winkler says they are also responsible for a large ambulance service area, “Our EMS contract that we have with the borough is a hundred square miles which covers most of the North Star Fire’s area.”

The smaller department also means they have to adapt. “The unique part of the North Pole Fire Department is the atmosphere and the people that work here, where we kind of have to be a jack of all trades, and learn and adapt to things that we are not usually required to do,” Winkler said. He says they do lots of their own equipment in house, everything from fixing chainsaws to servicing fire engines.

Winkler also says the small department doesn’t stop them from doing their job, “Our capabilities may seem small because we have a small department -- but we are very resourceful, we are very capable, and we do have the personnel that are able to provide any service that is required of them.”

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