Andy Mepham

(KPAX) The Missoula Fire Department is looking to put a levy on the November ballot that would help them fund everything from new firefighters to building a new fire station - all in an attempt to meet the city's growing population.

Fire Department leadership, alongside Mayor Jordan Hess and city leadership, held a press conference Aug. 1 to discuss a new initiative that aims to provide a substantial source of funding for the City of Missoula Fire Department.

The City's population and emergency calls have increased, but the city has not added any fire department personnel since 2008. Since then, the city’s population has grown by 11.5 percent, and the number of emergency calls received by the city has increased.

In 2022, the city received 10,436 emergency calls, a 78% increase since the last personnel expansion in 2008.

Without adequate staffing to cover the increased call volume, engines must respond outside their assigned station district to assist other stations when multiple calls come in, leading to crews being delayed and unable to respond to incidents in a timely fashion.

“We are two minutes behind the national average for response time,” said Gordy Hughes, the Fire Chief for the City of Missoula Fire Department.

Station reliability averages collected by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) state the Missoula Fire Department has fallen below the 90 percent national standard for reliability.

But if Missoula voters pass this levy in November, here are a few things the money would pay for:

  • 20 more firefighters
  • Permanent funding for the Mobile Support team
  • Another source of revenue for fire operations
  • Competitive firefighter wages