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UPDATE: Agreement to end Whitefish fire area dispute approved

Whitefish Fire
Posted at 4:07 PM, Dec 07, 2020

UPDATE: 8:54 a.m. - Dec. 8, 2020

WHITEFISH - The Whitefish City Council unanimously approved the execution of the Inter-local Agreement with the Whitefish Fire Service Area on Monday night.

The decision allows the city authority to execute the agreement with the fire service area.

(first report: 4:07 p.m. - Dec. 7, 2020)

A verbal agreement has been reached between the City of Whitefish and the Whitefish Fire Service Area on a five-year contract providing fire service to the rural region.

Whitefish City Manager Dana Smith says the deal includes compensation paid by the service area to increase at a 4% rate every year during the five-year contract.

The agreement will also include a one-time payment of $100,000 made by the rural fire service to assist the city with equipment purchases.

News of the tentative agreement comes after service area board members discussed a possible split in service to establish a volunteer fire department that would be fully staffed with 10-to-15 volunteers.

A large number of Whitefish residents voiced concerns about a possible split in service, citing slower emergency response times and homeowner insurance rate increases.

Smith says the verbal agreement would keep Whitefish Fire in charge of covering the rural area, which amounts to 40% of their fire calls on a yearly basis.

“We do provide what we like to think is the best service that we can to that area with very quick responses having a fire department that is ready to go at a moment’s notice 24/7,” Smith told MTN News.

The Whitefish City Council will vote on giving the city authority to execute the verbal agreement with the fire service area during a Monday evening council meeting.