GFK Airport’s firefighting & operations team has a new home

Grand Forks International Airport

The Grand Forks International Airport’s firefighting and operations team has a new home, and they’re inviting the public to take a look today.

The airport will show off its new Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting facility with an open house 5 to 7 p.m. today. Airport staff members said Tuesday the new building is a major improvement over its old facility, which is just to its south.

“This is way more spacious and way more set up for what we actually do,” said Chris Deitz, ARFF/Operations supervisor at the airport. They’ve been using the new building since February, he said.

The airport’s ARFF/Operations staff members wear many hats, Deitz said, from responding to emergencies to conducting airfield inspections and security.

The part of the old building that housed firefighting and operations staff was added onto an existing facility in 1990, said Rick Audette, the airport’s operations and maintenance manager. Airport staff also shared the building with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which continues to occupy that facility.

The new building adds a fourth stall to its garage, provides more spacious bedrooms as well as a conference room. It also includes locker rooms, office space, a fitness room, a lounge and a kitchen.

“If you tried to have more than four people in that kitchen, you couldn’t do it,” Audette said.

The new ARFF building is connected to the Stephen M. Rucinski maintenance facility, which opened in 2014. The ARFF/Operations addition cost $4.4 million, Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority Executive Director Ryan Riesinger said.

Riesinger said U.S. Customs and Border Protection will continue to operate out of the old facility, but he noted the long-term plan is for that building to be demolished. He added the airport is in the middle of a master planning process that will help “lay the framework” for how it proceeds with its facilities in the future.

“Obviously, Customs would need to have some sort of a facility to operate out of,” Riesinger said.

Riesinger called the new ARFF building a “first-class facility.”

“In the event of some sort of emergency, having this space available as designed makes it more conducive to be able to handle those situations with other responding agencies,” he said.