Fort Ellis Fire Service Area seeks a fee increase
Fort Ellis Fire Service Area is an all-volunteer fire department serving the most eastern part of Gallatin County. The department provides fire response for both Structure fires and wildland fires; emergency medical response; motor vehicle accident response, which may include rescue and extrication; and all other types of calls that aid and benefit our residents. Our fee structure is based on a single residential unit for all properties which include residential structures plus a multiple of the residential fee units for commercial properties within our district based on size and types of responses needed and anticipated.
We currently have $148 as our annual residential fee unit and seek approval from the Gallatin County Commission to approve a new annual residential fee unit of $250. Our current fee structure has been in place since 2012.
As we grow as a county, we as a department need to grow as well. Our call volume is approximately 300 calls per year and expected to increase year over year. In order to meet the demands of the types of calls we receive and be able to replace existing aging equipment, we have developed a comprehensive vehicle and equipment replacement plan. We also have severely outgrown our existing station and have been working on a design for a new station. Currently our station is located on Mount Ellis Academy property through a lease which expires in 2024. We are possibly looking to re-negotiate a new lease on adjacent property that the Academy owns to build a new station on or look to purchase property in the general area of the existing station. Both of these endeavors will require us to go far beyond our current budget.
As justification for our last fee increase, we pursued improving our ISO insurance rating by purchasing additional equipment and improving our training and record keeping. I’m happy to report that those efforts have secured an 8B status from the old status of 9. Plus, we have recently applied for and tested for a “Hauled Water” rating and are fairly confident that we will be able to improve that rating to possibly a 6 or 7. These improvements will help to reduce residential insurance rates for our residents within 5 miles of our station. Once we receive our final result, letters will be sent out to those who will benefit from the improvements within our district.
We plan to go before the Gallatin County Commission during their August meeting for their approval. If anyone has any questions or concerns, they are welcome to attend our monthly Board of Trustees meetings which occur each second Thursday at 7:30 pm at our fire station at 3525 Bozeman Trail Road. If there are changes to the meeting dates, they will be posted on our website and at our station on our bulletin board on the south side of the station. You may also send letters to the Board at the same address.
Michael J. Cech
Chief, Fort Ellis Fire Service Area