West Fargo Fire Department Chief Dan Fuller was honored at the Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, West Fargo City Commission meeting for graduating from the prestigious Federal Emergency Management Agency’s U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Academy (USFA) Executive Fire Officer Program.
“It is an honor to recognize Chief Fuller’s dedication to continued professional development and excellence,” said Commission President Bernie Dardis. “This is another example of the fine work the West Fargo Fire Department is accomplishing to transform into an innovative public safety department that is keeping up with our rapidly growing community.”
The USFA is a series of four graduate and upper-division, baccalaureate equivalent courses with four applied research projects taken over a 4-year period. The program focuses on executive development, community risk reduction, fire services in emergency operations and leadership.
During the course, Fuller utilized the applied research project opportunities to analyze the city’s response times, risk reduction for vulnerable populations, preplanning for large scale public events and the creation of a rural fire district. Each of these projects was evaluated through a formal process, and advancing in the program was contingent on successfully completed each project.
“The intensive EFOP is designed to provide senior fire officials with a broad perspective on various facets of fire administration,” said USFA Administrator G. Keith Bryant. “This program provides fire service officers with the expertise they need to succeed in today’s challenging environment.”
The EFO program is intended for current and emerging executive-level leaders in fire and emergency services organizations. Only 200 students are selected each year and Fuller is one of eight EFO’s in the state of North Dakota. Participants must hold a high rank in their organizations and hold a baccalaureate degree from an institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The courses are recommended by the American Council on Education to receive graduate or upper-division baccalaureate-equivalent course credit.
“I’d like to thank the City of West Fargo leadership for their support of this undertaking,” said Fuller. “I will be able to share my knowledge with the rest of our department to reduce risk and enhance our ability to confront and deal with emerging issues.”
Fuller has been instrumental in transforming the West Fargo Fire Department from a 40-member, all-volunteer force, to a hybrid volunteer/career staff system of 62 members. The department was facing a staggering increase in both call volume and response time due to the growth of the city. Through strategic planning and implementation led by Fuller, an additional 12 full-time personnel were hired and new strategies have been implemented to cut the department’s response time in half. This innovative hybrid system allows the City of West Fargo to maintain a cost to taxpayers that is nearly 40 percent less annually than surrounding communities.
During Fuller’s time with the West Fargo Fire Department, the department’s Insurance Services Office (ISO) Public Protection Classification (PPC) rating has dropped from a rating of 5 to a 3. This puts the department in the top 10 percent of fire departments in the nation. Key improvements to reach this score include adding a ladder truck to the Southside Fire Station, increasing staff to a force of 18 full-time and 44 part-time employees, increasing training hours by 155 percent over a two-year period, improving response times, increasing educational outreach, adding more fire inspectors and the improvement of the water looping system in West Fargo for more reliable water sources. The lower rating could potentially save the community $15 million in insurance savings.
Fuller has more than 20 years of experience in public safety, having worked in law enforcement, fire services and emergency medical services. Fuller became the West Fargo Fire Department’s chief in 2015. Previous, he was a captain at the Minot Rural Fire Department, a senior firefighter with the City of Minot Fire Department, and a flight paramedic with Northstar Criticair in Minot, North Dakota.
Fuller holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Fire Science Administration from Waldorf College, as well as a master’s degree in Public Administration from Anna Maria College. He served active duty in the United States Air Force from 1999-2007 in security forces. During this time, Fuller trained in anti-terrorism at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Fuller was twice awarded the Air Force Achievement Medal for lifesaving actions in both on- and off-duty incidents.