HAVRE, Mont. (NMB) – Hill County’s Rural Fire District 1 Board met on Tuesday morning for their regular monthly meeting.
Havre Mayor Tim Solomon told the Board that unless substantial progress is made towards a new fire suppression agreement in the weeks ahead, the current agreement between the City and the District will expire after June 30th.
Solomon expressed frustration that there is currently no enforcement of buildings in the District to ensure that they meet the fire code, and he believes that many buildings in the District are not up to code. He said he doesn’t have a problem with the contract itself, it’s the enforcement that needs to be worked out. Solomon says that since the city funds enforcement of building codes in city limits, it should be up to the County to fund enforcement in the rural fire district.
“That’s been the problem. No one is enforcing the fire code out there now, and they are building new facilities that don’t meet any fire code,” Solomon said. “We’re not interested in suppression if no one is going to enforce the fire code. We’re looking for who is going to step up and do that at the county level. We’re not real interested in doing that part, unless you guys…it would be a cost, but I don’t think you want to get into that cost. I think the County (should) look at how they are going to enforce their own code.”
Solomon could ask the City Council to temporarily extend the agreement while a new contract is being worked out, but he says time is running out to do that, as there are only two Council meetings scheduled before the deadline.
Solomon acknowledged that the Board members present are all new and they are still learning on the fly, but said this has been a consistent issue for the last three years that needs to be addressed in short order.
Board Chair Steven Jamruszka said that he will continue to research the situation and see if a resolution can be found.
Rural Fire District 1 is essentially a ring around Havre in which the Havre Fire Department provides services under the current agreement.
The next monthly Board meeting is scheduled for 11 AM on June 8th. Special meetings could be called before then, but the public would have to be provided at least 48 hours notice in advance.
Also discussed at the meeting:
- The Board announced that the sale of the bus barn east of town to North Central Montana Transit has been completed
- The Board approved the forwarding of their preliminary by-laws to the County Commission for adoption. Commissioner Mark Peterson says the by-law will be sent to the County Attorney for review. If there are no changes, it will then be voted on by the Commission for approval. If there are changes, it will have to go back to the Board for approval. The by-laws outline the purpose and authority of the Board, which is an advisory panel with no power to levy taxes or pass laws or regulations. They do have the ability to hire consultants or engineers if necessary.
- Chairman Steven Jamruszka says he is working on submitting a budget for the District