Interim Moorhead Fire Chief Jeff Wallin talks benefits of underpass, public safety study, new fire station

Photo by: Moorhead Fire Department
Photo by: Moorhead Fire Department

(Moorhead, MN) -- Things are beginning to get easier for Moorhead Fire crews in the wake of the Main Street Underpass' completion, at least according to Interim Chief Jeff Wallin.

The Chief talked about a wide range of topics with WDAY's Bonnie and Friends, including how call times will only improve with the new underpass near Moorhead High School.

"When responding to service medical emergencies brain can happen in as little as six minutes, and up we’re looking to intervene in fires within a four minute travel time," said Wallin. "The underpass just makes doing our job that much better and really results in a much safer community in that part of town."

Wallin did note too that the 11th street underpass project, which could begin as soon as next year and take roughly two to four years to complete, will help even further in opening things up for emergency services across the entire city.

The Interim Chief also discussed Moorhead Fire's role in taking on the opioid epidemic in the area.

"Our crews all carry Narcan, which again is a slightly different generic version of the medication, but we have that on board," says Wallin. "We were trained and prepared to be able to administer that to intervene should be necessary." He adds in some siutuations, his crews may hold off if other emergency personnel or even a fellow citizen has already used Narcan or another reviving method at a scene.

As it pertains to plans for the new fire station on the city's south side, it appears the plans are beginning to come to fruition.

"Looking to do that along 34th St, Court or somewhere close down I-94 if you think of where the new holiday gas station and Hardee’s is in that part of town," said Wallin, who noted it might not just be a new fire station. "EMS, law-enforcement, other city services, it might be better to have different agencies working together out of a combined or a joint building." Wallin says the city have given the green light from a planning standpoint, but now the goal is to target specific sites in the area that may have the best advantage for first responders.

In the grander scale of public safety, the city is also set to begin a survey on the entire makeup of it soon.

"We're investing some time and resources by working with the a firm that specializes in public safety planning future forecasting and analyzing our current capabilities to try to identify strengths and weaknesses and gaps in how you can adjust to those industry best practices," said Wallin when asked about the Interim tag possibly being removed from his title. "The study will help us analyze where we are at in the City of Morehead to try to put together the best strategies for the next 3 to 10 years involving things like law-enforcement, fire protection, emergency management, community risk reduction and a few other areas like that."

The study is set to begin in September.