GREAT FALLS – During a city budget meeting last month, city commissioners denied Great Falls Fire Rescue money for more staffing.
City manager Greg Doyon says the decision was made due to a higher priority, as all four fire stations across the city are dealing with a piping issue.
The stations were built about 40 years ago and with that comes some problems. The cast metal piping that was used in all four stations has deteriorated. And even in some parts, especially station 1, the pipes are completely gone.
“There’s sections underneath station 1 where there is no pipe left. It’s literally a whole through the dirt. If that were to collapse, there’s no opening or backup, then we go more into a crisis mode,” Jones said.
The issue came to surface when the rescue went to build a female dormitory about four years ago. When crews began construction at station 4, the floor buckled and dropped nearly two feet.
“The major concern we have is voids underneath our surfaces, especially in the truck bay areas where our trucks that weigh about 60,000 pounds drive over all the time,” Jones said.
So far, a city engineer and a geo-engineer have been called in to inspect all the stations.
“At this point, were trying to figure out the best way to solve the problem with minimal impacts and interruptions to our service and be as cost-effective to the citizens of our community as we can,” Jones said.
At this point, there is no estimate of the cost for the repairs.
“At the end of the day there’s only so many pieces of the pie to hand out to different departments of the city. Trying to keep critical needs open and operating are definitely a priority and this definitely falls in that,” Jones said.
Reporting by Elizabeth Transue for MTN News