Helena commissioners discuss increasing firefighting staff

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Posted at 9:07 AM, Aug 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-17 11:38:46-04

HELENA — Helena commissioners discussed Master Plan Staffing for firefighters at their Administrative Meeting on Wednesday.

“Fire stations are fantastic, but they also require staffing in order to function and provide service to the community,” said Jon Campbell, the City of Helena Fire Chief.

After adding six more suppression members in 2018, there is a current total of 36 between the two current city fire stations.

The fire staff rotates in three shifts each with 12 firefighters on duty. This allows for up to four firefighters to be on leave per day. Currently, additional leave has to be filled by overtime hours.

The current staffing issues include a lack of staff resilience, difficulty using accrued time and not enough personnel to staff a third station if the city pursues building one.

If these issues continue it could lead to new and worsening problems.

“Longer response times, having calls concurrently running,” Campbell said, “And that can cause delays for provision of emergency services.”

The recommendation is to add 15 to 18 new firefighters.

“We're making recommendations projecting on growth population-wise, as well as the demands on emergency services by virtue of what the community utilizes for and the frequency and quantity of calls that on generated on an annual basis,” said Campbell.

Adding these potions would increase firefighters per shift to five or six and overall members to 51 or 54 respectively.