Havre, Rural Fire 1 Appear to be Nearing Agreement

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) – After months of deadlock, the City of Havre and Rural Fire District 1 appear to be closing in on an agreement that would see the Havre Fire Department continue to suppress fires in the District, while the District would be in charge of ensuring local enforcement of fire codes.

Officials from the City of Havre, Rural Fire District 1, Hill County, and Kremlin Volunteer Fire Department Chief Kody Peterson met on Tuesday afternoon in which details of the new contract were discussed.

Currently, Hill County Fire Warden Amanda Frickel and Kremlin Fire Chief Kody Peterson have volunteered to provide enforcement, and will continue to do so until Rural Fire 1 contracts the job out.

If Rural Fire 1 were to contract out enforcement to the Havre Fire Department, Mayor Tim Solomon says the estimated annual cost of their services would be $50,000. This would provide a half-time person for enforcement and inspections.

Rural Fire 1 Board Chair Steven Jamruszka said the deal is “pretty much done,” but they are still working on an addendum to the agreement that will detail the District’s enforcement efforts. He said the foundation has been agreed to, but the “implementation of a plan” is the next step.

“This is done, absent that part of it,” Solomon said. “Because that amendment has to be part of this contract. And so that’s the part that we’re worried about, that they sit down and do a written thing that gives them authority, or however you’re going to work that out. Without that, this isn’t complete.”

The agreement would likely run through June of 2022, with the potential of it being extended annually.

“What we have is the working language for fire suppression and enforcement and fire code agreement with the city,” Jamruszka said. “All of those avenues have been covered. We have a document that if the language is acceptable to everybody, it’s done. What’s not been done is the details worked out on the enforcement part of things I’ve got a framework in my head, I’ve got to meet with some people to test the reality of what I’m thinking. And what I’m thinking is it’s okay and the parties agree to it. The inspections and the reporting of, we have it. The only details left after that is the Commissioner’s stamp of approval and the Department of Justice.”

The current arrangement in which the Havre Fire Department is continuing to provide fire suppression for RF1 despite the termination of the previous agreement, is set to expire after September 15th.

Both sides appear confident a new deal will be reached by that deadline.

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