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A look inside Missoula Rural Fire District's new fire station

Posted at 10:45 AM, Mar 27, 2022

BONNER — It is out with the old and in with the new for the Missoula Rural Fire District (MRFD).

The new station #4 has been operational for about six weeks now and is open to public tours on Saturday.

The sound of firefighters at work at MRFD’s new station provides two things that community members need.

“They want us to respond quickly," said MRFD Fire District Chief Chris Newman. "And they want us to show up well-staffed and well trained.”

Newman has been with the department for 27 years and has seen this nearly four-year and $4 million project from start to finish, with two goals in mind — emergency response time and the health and safety of his firefighters.

“Our career firefighters are working 24-hour shifts, sometimes 48 or even 72-hour shifts," said Newman. "Then we also have our resident firefighters that are here, living, right? And so just trying to make it as bright and airy and from the mental side of this job—it's just, you walk out here, especially on a sunny day, and it's, it just feels good.”

All in order to keep us safe.

“I'm a firm believer that the better our firefighters feel, the better that they're gonna, the better employees are going to be and also, the better that they're going to be able to serve our community,” Newman told MTN News.

Adding to the station is a clothing and turnout room, where firefighters store their clothing in a ventilated, confined area so that smoke isn’t following them around.

“Even if we watch them really, really well after fires, there's still carcinogenic particles that are coming off of that and so it's constantly recirculating the air and they're pushing it outside so it's not sitting in the fire station where people are living,” said Newman.

The new station is right next to the old sawmill in Bonner at the Bonner Industrial Park, and this location is very purposeful.

“We try to look at what's coming in the future and where could we be seeing a significant amount of growth that may affect that say, 10 or 20 years from now," said Newman. "So when we put all that together, this was the ideal location.”

And Ken Peers, a 21-year volunteer veteran of MRFD has seen this growth firsthand, "well, it just means, a lot it means this shows how much we improved our response time is so much faster,” said Peers.

Peers even reflects on the advancements of equipment the station has seen.

“We had a fire truck, it was an old army six-by-six and you go down the road at top speed of about 35 miles per hour and the sirens going wide open, and the cars were passing you and you knew you weren’t going very fast,” said Peers.