ND National Guard on a mission and always ready

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 7:29 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Precipitation drives many industries in North Dakota. Agriculture, recreation and tourism are all dependent on how much rain or snow falls during the year. The North Dakota National Guard is also driven by weather events.

Firefighting requires much different equipment and tactics than battling floods. The North Dakota Guard responds to both, but each mission is similar in one way.

“Pretty much anything we do, we need to be ready, and we need to be able to provide that support quickly,” said Colonel Steve Selzer, director of Military Support.

In 2022, the North Dakota National Guard responded to fire suppression missions and stabilized the Bourbonnais Dam.

“Our crews were actually moving the sandbags about a mile and placed them in the road and channel on the dam,” said Chief Warren Officer 3 Brent Freese, aviation maintenance officer.

Helicopters were also used for fire suppression for a train derailment near Des Lacs.

“There’s probably a little more risk in firefighting. It’s probably a little more dynamic just because with higher winds and that type of thing. Smoke presents its own challenges as well,” said Chief Warren Officer 5 Tim Quintus, aviation maintenance supervisor.

Many areas of the state received substantial snowfall, but it’s way too early to predict how many flood or fire missions the Guard will respond to.

Currently, the North Dakota National Guard has approximately 4,000 soldiers and airmen available for deployment.