Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Due to the panic over property tax increases in 2023, a multi-million dollar Missoula fire services levy was left off the ballot, however, the pressing need for additional firefighting funds for personnel and another city fire station remains.

According to the City of Missoula website:

The City Fire Services Levy will ask Missoula Voters for $7 Million per Year

‘The City proposes to levy 34 mills, which would raise approximately $7 million per year at current mill rates. The City cannot increase the number of mills without going back to the voters. The exact dollar amount raised each year will fluctuate slightly based on the city's taxable values.’

KGVO News spoke to incoming President of Local 271 of the IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters) Union, Andrew Drobek recently about the urgent need for the fire services levy.

The Missoula City Fire Department is adding over 1,000 Calls per Year

“We've been experiencing an increased call volume for years now,” began Drobek. “It's not something that happens overnight. It's just been kind of consistent, adding 1,000 calls per year, and it's just gotten to a point where we're not able to operate in an effective manner. We're starting to see that we're not getting the calls as quickly as we should. We're sometimes stuck on the other side of town having to go all the way across town.”

Drobek said the need for more firefighters and more infrastructure grows each year.

Drobek says Missoula needs Another Fire Station and 20 New Firefighters

“When the levee was pulled off last fall, the need didn't change. We still need another fire station; we still need another engine company with 20 new firefighters. So our firefighters feel like we have are in the best position to kind of advocate for that needs since we're the ones that are out there seeing it. That's what we're going to start doing is educate the public on what we're experiencing. You know, we don't mind being busy. But there's a service that we need to provide to the public and so we want the public to know where we are at this time”.

Drobek said even if the full levy passes, there will still be a deficit in fire services for Missoula’s population size.

“Some of those standards we're not going to meet, even if we get this levy passed,” he said. “We're working shorthand and just all the time, but we can't continue on a trajectory of adding 1,000 calls per year and just maintain staffing levels from 2008. It's just not feasible.”

Drobek said there is no chance that local firefighters would ever walk off the job to force action to increase pay or personnel.

Get more details about what the city and the fire department needs by clicking here.

Looking Back at One of Montana's Most Explosive Fires

The 2013 Lolo Creek Fire burned within 6 miles of Missoula

Gallery Credit: Dennis Bragg

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