Helena voters scored a big win for their community this past fall when they elected Wilmot Collins their new mayor and locked in a forward-thinking city commission.
After electing these candidates and their clearheaded progressive vision Helenans will now get an opportunity to support one of the major pillars they campaigned on: increasing staffing at the Helena Fire Department.
It goes without saying, firefighters are the backbone of so many Montana communities. They’re willing to put their life on the line every day to serve their friends and neighbors regardless of social status, race, or political leanings. They protect our homes, businesses, schools, and hospitals. All while contributing to our communities with their hard-earned dollars, sending their kids to the same schools we do, and supporting our non-profits and causes.
To firefighters, pulling on their gear and going to work means upholding a solemn oath they’ve made to their community.
Now Helena gets a chance to honor that commitment by supporting the Helena Fire Safety Levy.
On June 5th Helena should vote “Yes” to make their community safer by hiring six new full-time firefighters and replacing equipment scheduled for replacement.
Helena hasn’t hired a new full-time firefighter since 1996 despite the city growing by more than 21% in that time.
Yep, that’s 22 years without a single new firefighter!
When you learn this, it’s no surprise to find Helena’s Fire Department can currently only respond to a single fire at a time or three medical emergencies. In fact, last year alone Helena’s Fire Department responded to more than 4,000 fire and medical calls, a surprising number for such a small community.
The bottom line is Helena’s firefighters need backup and the upcoming levy can give it to them. Homeowners and business owners should be startled to learn that on most days the Helena Fire Department is operating below federal staffing recommendations. The city has two trucks and federal recommendations call for four personnel per truck… Helena doesn’t even have eight firefighters on duty most days, falling below the threshold.
The total cost of the levy is less than $1,000,000, a reasonable amount which is tiny compared to Helena’s last two levies.
Mandated caps on increases for Helena city spending prevent our elected officials from expanding the firefighting force. Instead, Helena’s voters get the opportunity to vote yes and prioritize our community’s safety and protect our homes, businesses, and schools.
Firefighting is a noble job and one a community should be united to support. On June 5th Helenans should yes for the Helena Fire Safety levy.
Regardless of where you live in Montana, if you want to support Helena’s brave firefighters you should make a donation to the campaign here: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/yesforfiresafety#