(HELENA) The Baxendale Volunteer Fire Department welcomed the public this weekend to their new fire station, serving the community of Rimini.
The department held an open house at their new Station #2, which sits on Rimini Road just north of town. The station has been operating since March, but Chief Jordan Alexander said they wanted to showcase it now that the weather is good.
The new station will include an engine, a brush truck and a tender. It will respond to fire and medical calls.
“About any call we get, we can cover from here and then the other station can backfill, or vice versa,” said Alexander.
In the past, it could take about 15 minutes for first responders to reach Rimini from the Baxendale fire station on U.S. Highway 12. Alexander said the department has nine volunteers in the Rimini area, so they are now able to handle calls much faster.
The Baxendale Fire Department has been working for about 20 years to get a station in the Rimini area – first under former chief Dave Mason, and then under Alexander. Leaders say the biggest challenge was simply to find a suitable location.
The department eventually reached an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service for a 30-year conditional use permit on the Rimini Road site. Alexander said it includes a 40,000-gallon water tank that had originally been intended as a septic system for Rimini.
“They decided not to use it, and they were going to get rid of it,” he said. “We said, ‘No, let’s not dig it up.’”
Alexander said the new station could improve insurance rates for residents in the Rimini area. Insurance companies consider the state of local fire service when determining a homeowner’s fire risk.
“These poor folks up here were paying the same amount of taxes for fire protection, yet their insurance rate didn’t reflect that,” said Alexander. “With having this station here now and some other improvements we’ve done, they’re going to come from a Classification 9 or 10 down to a 5 or 6, so they’re actually going to see some benefit again. And the rest of the district came down too, so it’s a win for everybody.”
Alexander said it will likely be at least a six-month process for Rimini’s insurance classification to be updated.
He said the department funded the new station through its regular property-tax assessment, though they did take out a low-interest loan.