Agreement Between Havre, Rural Fire 1 to Expire at End of June

A close up of a map of Hill County showing the boundaries of Fire Districts. Everything in green outside of city limits is considered to be under the jurisdiction of Rural Fire District 1

HAVRE, Mont. (NMB) – An agreement between the City of Havre and Rural Fire District 1 on fire suppression has not been reached, meaning the current agreement will expire at the end of June after the city filed an intent to terminate it back in November.

However, the Board and the City have come to a verbal agreement that will see the Havre Fire Department continue to respond to calls in the District for the first two weeks of July.

Mayor Tim Solomon says the District will be billed directly for fire calls over this period, but Board Chair Steven Jamruszka says he was not made aware of that when they met recently.

No progress on the impasse has been made since the last Rural Fire 1 Board meeting on June 8th. During that time, the City of Havre sent Rural Fire 1 a counteroffer that calls for the Board to enforce fire codes, but Jamruszka contends that the Board does not have the authority to do that, citing Montana Code Annotated. This point of contention has remained the sticking point that has kept an agreement from being reached.

The City of Havre continues to express safety concerns about buildings in Rural Fire 1, some of which they say are not up to code and present potential hazards for first responders.

Both sides continue to leave the door open to a potential agreement, but Jamruszka says he doesn’t believe two weeks is enough time to sort out the issue, and would like to see an extension granted.

Once the agreement expires, buildings in the District are likely to see increased fire insurance costs, with some buildings potentially being uninsurable. The City of Havre would also no longer be obligated to suppress fires in the District.

Rural Fire District 1 is essentially a ring around Havre in which the Havre Fire Department provides services under the current agreement.

The Rural Fire 1 Board is scheduled to hold their monthly meeting on Tuesday, July 13th in the Timmons Room of the Hill County Courthouse.

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