Belgrade Fire chief proposes big departmental changes

GALLATIN COUNTY

POSTED: 6:05 PM Dec 17 2012   UPDATED: 4:20 PM Dec 18 2012
Central Valley Belgrade Fire Department
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

The fire chief of the Central Valley/Belgrade Fire Department says being a mostly volunteer department just isn't cutting it anymore.

So he's proposed hiring more paid staff, because he says it'll help support the workload on volunteers.

The recommendations are the result of a months-long analysis of the department and it's needs.

We dug through the report, and found CVFD covers 187 square miles that encompasses Belgrade, Four Corners, River Rock, and Spring Hill areas.

But they could provide initial response for some 250 square miles.

Overall, they protect around 35,000 people and almost $2 billion worth of property.

The 22-page analysis by Chief Ron Lindroth is the conglomeration of months he spent looking at the inner workings of the department.

He said the department, which has 46 volunteer fire fighters and 12 full-time firefighters/EMTs, just doesn't have enough staffing to handle the area.

Chief Lindroth said he believes adding more full-time fire fighters will decrease response times and make the department more efficient.

To fund the staffing, he proposes making cuts in other areas- like cutting administrative positions like the Human Resource Officer and reorganizing shifts.

We talked to local residents who said they think it's about time to make the switch.

"It would be great for response times and for employment" said Ali Atchinson. "I'm all for it."

Belgrade resident Terry Jensen said he thinks the department seems fine how it is, but could see why Chief Lindroth thinks the change is necessary.

"They do a great job all over the valley. They help out all the other fire departments, volunteer-wise" Jensen said, adding "If the chief thinks we need more help- full-time help- then I guess we better get some more full-time help."

Chief Lindroth told us Monday he's going over the plan with fire fighters first before making any official comments.

In the plan, he said there's still a lot of details to work out- but he'd like the recommendations to be implemented next year.