Viewpoint: Buy a park but ignore the Missoula Fire Department?
This decision says where your priorities lie. Shame on you. Need to spend $4 million on Marshall Mountain rather than build another fire station and hire the people to staff it. Cost for this endeavor could be the life of one of your citizens. How much are their lives worth?
The shame here is you haven't given your citizens a chance to vote. You are supposed to represent your citizens and do what is best for them. Just think, their property taxes might go up to pay for this. What about the additional cost to every property owner for their insurance increases because you won't give them a chance to vote? Your entire city's ISO rating will change hence the increase.
What is the firefighter union doing? Doesn't look like they're educating the public. Get out and knock on doors to petition for a Special Election. Is the IAFF willing to help? Is everyone just saying okay? I can't believe that. Too stubborn to ask for help? Has anyone asked the NFA for documents to show the costs of a bond issue to assist in paying for the additional station and personnel to staff it? There might be grant money to help?
Have all avenues been searched?
Who's in charge of planning? Same old story. The PD is OK because they can hire one person at a time. What type of grant money did you get for the airport expansion? I know there is FAA dollars for that. Was staffing also included? The airport needed to maintain their own rating for fire protection.
As I continue to read about the growth Missoula is experiencing, I'm shocked that the fire department has been neglected. What are the short- and long-term plans for your city? What other departments are being neglected? Seems like affordable housing is primary along with proper fire protection. Are the developers paying their fair share?
I could go on and on. My 30-plus years in the fire service, plus the fact that I experienced fast growth and stagnant growth. Without proper planning, the community struggles. Your challenges are many, and I wish you the best, but shame on you for ignoring your fire protection.
Richard Meisinger holds an MS and is a retired fire chief