St. Regis area volunteer firefighters agreed to continue responding to emergencies as long a mediator helps solve their problems with the Montana Highway Patrol.
West End and St. Regis Volunteer Fire Departments said on Tuesday they'd stop responding to emergencies at midnight Wednesday if the Montana Highway Patrol didn?t agree to a list of demands from the fire departments to be treated more courteously by troopers.
The two fire districts normally respond to 911 calls on a 42-mile stretch of I-90 from the Idaho state line west of St. Regis.
The fire chiefs say they tried several times to resolve their issues with MHP directly, but weren?t satisfied.
MHP officials say they investigated an incident where a trooper was accused of approaching a crash scene at a dangerous speed, and they cleared him of any wrongdoing.
Mineral County commissioners met Wednesday with the fire chiefs to try to avoid a suspension of emergency service.
State Senator Gordon Hendrick, who was also at the meeting, said he?d arrange a meeting with an arbiter and MHP officials to sort through their issues. In turn, the fire chiefs agreed to continue emergency response service to the area on an intermediate basis.
West End resident Brooke Lincoln says she?s pleased with the decision.
"In my opinion, they were refusing to do their duty,? said Lincoln. ?They are honor bound to the public to do their duty, volunteer or not. They signed up for this gig."
Superior resident Vicki Olson says she thinks ego was factor in the disagreement.
"If it was up to women, we'd just have a bake off,? said Olson. "If it's up to men, somebody's got to be right, and somebody's got to be heard."
The involved parties are still working on a date and time for the arbitration meeting to take place.