BILLINGS – Fire Chief Bill Rash is asking the Billings City Council for two new fire stations, two new fire engines and a command vehicle to keep up with growth.
At Monday night’s Council meeting, Rash noted that Billings lasted passed a public safety mill levy 15 years ago, and the city has added more than 10,000 people since.
In addition, the Billings Fire Department has experienced a 51% increase in service calls since 2012.
Based on an evaluation done by a consulting company, the city needs one station on the West End in the area of 48th Street West and Hesper Road and one in the Heights west of Main Street near the intersection of Hilltop Road and Topaz Avenue.
The consultant also found the city is below regional standards, Rash said.
The fire department’s first unit response times were double the regional standard, and first alarm assignment times were also down.
“We found that we were near twice the response time for that as well, which showed us or told us that this is a significant concern. And we need to start down the path of responsible planning, so we can at least begin to try and address our current needs that have been identified as well as our future needs,” Rash said.
The cost of adding two new stations, two new fire engines and one command vehicle was about $5 million.
“The city council has made public safety its top priority,” Mayor Bill Cole said. “Our firefighters do a great job, but the increasing size of our city has made it impossible for them to respond to some incidents as quickly as we would like. Whether it’s adding fire stations, firefighters, or police, none of this comes cheap. There’s no free lunch when it comes to maintaining and improving public safety.”
Editor’s note (April 3): A previous version of this story indicated the wrong location for the two proposed fire stations. This version is correct.