The Billings Fire Department has about the same number of firefighters they had 42 years ago. But, they are receiving more calls than ever.
In 1977, Billings Fire had about 116 people on staff. Today, they have about 121 people on staff. The big difference is the number of calls. Forty two years ago, they received about 1500 calls a year. Today, they receive over 15,000 calls a year and that number is expected to go up.
Billings Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Matt Hoppel said, "There's days we average 60 calls within the city."
Billings Fire has also increased the size of the area it serves, going from 18 square miles 42 years ago, to over 90 square miles today. Hoppel tells me they need more firefighters, and at least one new fire station in the Heights.
Hoppel said, "It's going to take a vote of the people to determine how many people they would like to see us have, the police department have. Because, right now, we are maxed out. We actually had to cut our budget a little bit this year, not losing personnel, but we are losing some certain things that support personnel such as training, overtime, things like that."
Billings Fire tells me you will see a mill levy proposed in the future to give additional funding to the fire department.