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Firefighters needed for rural district

Editor,

After many years of planning, the new Rural Fire District station north of the bridge has been completed. This new station will eventually guarantee fire protection to the residents who live north of Polson in the event the bridge is out of commission and will provide housing for the growing fleet of rural emergency vehicles that were dangerously crowding the Polson City Fire Station.

The district, which now encompasses 200 square miles, has dramatically changed over the last few years as ranches have been sold to make way for numerous subdivisions. Nearly all areas have increased their population from Valley View to the south, Turtle Lake to the south-east and Big Arm to the north.

However, the biggest population growth has been in the area just north of Polson including Jette Lake and Jette Meadows. Although this new station is north of the bridge it is in the center of the whole rural fire district.

Since 1960, the Rural Fire District has had various inter-local agreements with the City of Polson. The current agreement enables the city fire company and rural fire companies to work together when responding to emergency calls. Over the decades, the Polson City Firefighters have done an amazing job of responding to both city and rural emergencies. We thank them for their dedicated service. We also thank the Big Arm and Irvine Flats Firefighters who are always willing to help with the city’s emergencies and respond to every corner of the district when needed.

The new Fairgrounds Fire Station will be established with a rural fire company just like the Big Arm Volunteer Fire Company and the Irvine Flats Volunteer Fire Company. These rural fire companies have their own by-laws, elect their own officers and are under the jurisdiction of the Rural Fire District Board.

These companies, although they have separate identities, will continue to respond to emergency calls with the Polson City Fire Company per the inter-local agreement. They will continue under one shared Fire Chief who organizes training, oversees emergency calls and manages equipment and buildings.

To make the new Fairground Fire Station a fully functioning station with firefighting equipment capable of fighting structure and wild-land fires, we need more residents to volunteer to become fire fighters. The Fire Chief has advised the board that splitting the current firefighters between the two stations will delay response time.

We have agreed to his plan of only housing brush and wild-land fire equipment in the new station, however, this plan should change as new volunteer firefighters are recruited and trained. We give a warm welcome and a big thank you to Greg Perkins and Paul Iverson who are the first volunteers for the new station. Will you consider joining them?

Being a firefighter can be a very personally rewarding experience as it is an opportunity to provide an invaluable community service through protection of lives and property of your family and residents of this rural fire district. We will train you to be a knowledgeable and safe responder and outfit you with all the necessary safety gear. Your training will be valuable to you both as a firefighter and as a home owner and for the safety of your family.

The board’s plans do not stop with this new station. Recently Trustees Manley, Meslin and Laisy applied for a Federal SAFER Grant, which will assist in recruiting, training and retaining more rural firefighters throughout the district. If the grant is successful the board will work towards establishing substations in the ranching community of Valley View and in the community south of Turtle Lake. These new substations and an increase in firefighters will bring us into compliance with National Fire Protection Association standards and will ensure better fire protection for the rural communities that are located more than five miles from the City of Polson.

Please consider helping your community by becoming a volunteer firefighter. For further information about volunteering or any questions about the Fire District please contact Trustee Alison Meslin at 849-6628 or Paul Laisy at 883-1621.

Alison Meslin
Paul Laisy
Polson Rural Fire District Trustees
Polson

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