Fire District Update
Post date: Jun 2, 2019 4:06:06 AM
Here is a quick update regarding the current status of securing fire suppression services for the North Bannock County Fire District.
It is understood that your fire district commissioners represent all citizens living within the boundaries of the fire district in their deliberations. We have listened to all of you who have given suggestions to our current plight and have taken into account your input in the process of determining how the district must proceed.
At our April meeting we presented to you an offer of services from the City of Chubbuck. This offer presented the following problems:
- The amount of the offer was double the amount that the District could collect from the current levy.
- The District must provide 10 volunteers at all times or pay a fine if that number could not be maintained.
- A hold harmless clause that would indemnify the City from any liability due to their firefighting efforts in the district.
- The City’s reluctance to respond to fires in the district that could be related to a burn permit issue.
For these reasons it is impossible to support this contract.
Although the District is grateful for past services provided by Chubbuck Fire, emergency responses in the District have always come secondary to any type of emergency including EMS calls within the City of Chubbuck. Even though the current contract offer from the City of Chubbuck is 3 times higher than last year’s contract amount, there is no offer from the City to improve its response services to the District.
Your fire district Commissioners met with Mayor Brian Blad of the City of Pocatello in an attempt to secure a contract for services. The Pocatello City Council had determined that the City of Pocatello could not offer a contract to the district unless the district residents were paying the same rate as the residents of the city. Since the cost per $100,000 of property valuation that the citizens of the city pay for fire suppression is about $303, the district would be charged the same rate.
However, the maximum levy allowed by law would only permit the district to collect $240 dollars per $100,000. Thus a contract with the City of Pocatello is not possible.
The commissioners also contacted the Fort Hall Fire Department. Unfortunately Fort Hall fire department was not able to offer a contract for the entirety of the fire district.
An attempt to secure coverage using a combination of the various agencies was not possible due to the high cost of bids and the non-participation of the City of Pocatello.
Since the district was unable to work out a viable contract with any of the agencies in the region, we have determined that we have no alternative but to form our own fire department and have it operational by 1 October 2019. We have initiated that process.
Because the district has always contracted its fire suppression services, there has never been the need for fire service vehicles, equipment, structures or employees. We must build the districts fire department from the ground up within the confines of the funds that the district currently has on hand. It is IMPERATIVE that we secure a levy increase that will assure the fire department’s success. There is no alternative.
The district is currently creating a budget that will delineate the costs of forming the new fire department. We are also contacting fire departments around the region and state, requesting that we be considered if they were to have surplus equipment or vehicles that were to be offered to “in need” departments.
We are searching for a suitable centrally located structure that can temporarily serve as a fire station until such time as the levy can be raised and sufficient funds can be collected to build our own fire stations and support the ongoing costs of a fire department.
The district will be seeking out all persons that are willing to serve as volunteer firefighters. We will hire a fire chief and training officer who will work with those who apply to have you ready to respond to calls beginning October 1st. The district can’t do it without you so please seriously consider a side career as a volunteer firefighter. It should be noted that there were only about 60 calls last year which equates to a little over one call per week. You can sign up now by going to the district’s web site at www.northbannockfire.us and clicking the “signup” button, or contact the district commissioners (also on the web site).
North Bannock County Fire District Commissioners