Billings Fire Department talks fire station expansion - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Billings Fire Department talks fire station expansion

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Billings fire fighters are hopeful the city council will sign off on a plan to expand the department. The plan proposes placing two new fire stations and a possible relocation.

KULR-8 spoke with Interim Fire Chief Bill Rash who said he and now retired fire chief Paul Dextras have a shared vision of a plan to extend the Billings Fire Department. Interim Fire Chief Bill Rash explained that expansion is needed to serve a growing population on the West End and in the Heights.

The intersections of Hilltop Road and Topaz Avenue in the Heights and Hesper Road and 48th Street West may look much different in coming years. These are where the Billings Fire Department sees new fire stations being added in the future.

Population growth and maintaining target response times are the primary reason for the proposal.

"We felt it was the prudent place to start," Chief Rash said. "It was to commission this consulting firm to get a long range master plan to identify that stuff, to provide us with the data that would allow us to go forward."

The fire department's consultant Lane Wintermute outlined the three possible plans before the council Tuesday night. The first is to build a fire station on Hesper Road and Hilltop in the Heights, an area that needs more attention, according to Wintermute.

The second plan would be to build a fire station on 48th Street and Hesper Road on top of the new fire station in the Heights. The third would be to build two new fire stations and relocate the current fire station.

"We are down two stations and two engine companies from where we should be on the national and regional median," Chief Rash said.

Chief Rash said that these strategies would bring faster response times which could result in better insurance. Chief Rash said last year in 2017, the Billings Fire Department responded to 100 structure fires and over 14,000 calls for service.

He said BFD will respond to those calls in an average of 7 minutes and 18 seconds and Chief Rash wants to improve. Chief Rash explained how these proposals could be beneficial.

"Additional fire stations and our relocation will benefit our citizens in many ways. One, shorter response times because you're putting additional stations in play. We'll also have quicker additional responses."

Chief Rash said the next step, if this plan is approved by the city council, will be to have a strategic plan on the financial aspect and the projected date of when the plan will be put in motion. 

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