Prior to February 1, 2016, our department had an all-volunteer staff. We now have two paid employees—each of whom is a firefighter and an advanced emergency medical technician. Given that our community’s voters recently twice-denied our fire district’s trustees’ requests to raise property tax levies to be able to afford hiring fire station staff, we want to explain how we are now able to pay wages to our two new employees.
In early 2014 Flathead County finished building a fire station in the Ashley Lake area. Many properties near there were annexed into the Marion Fire District. At the end of 2015, our fire district began receiving a portion of the property taxes paid by the homeowners of annexed properties. The district’s finances also improved in 2015, because our volunteers and fire apparatus worked outside the district during the busy wildfire season to earn profits that exceeded expectations.
The additional revenue motivated the district’s trustees to hire two firefighter/AEMTs. The two employees will primarily work the daytime hours of Monday through Friday—the period when almost all our volunteers are working jobs outside the fire district.
Hiring these employees should provide a more consistent and efficient emergency response for the community of Marion. It will also relieve an ever-increasing workload burden on our volunteers created by state and federal requirements. However, we still need more volunteers, because many of our calls take multiple people to complete successfully.
Thank you to everyone for your ongoing support! We look forward to serving the Marion community in 2016.