City Government

Boise FD To Sell Services To North Ada District

Another “business plan” to come out of Thursday’s “strategic planning” meeting with city officials is the planned expansion of the Boise Fire Department by two dozen personnel in a “take over” deal which will have Boise selling fire protection to Garden City, Hidden Springs, and the rest of the North Ada County Fire Rescue (NACFR) district.

Boise Chief Dennis Doan presented a series of slides showing how the city can turn a profit by hiring the firefighters from the NACFR, but making NACFR provide the equipment and stations.
In turn Boise would stop paying that district about $100,000 to protect the area of Fairview and Liberty where Boise closed a station…it took a rocket scientist to close a fire station and then hire an outsider to protect it!

Regardless of what anyone says, the big winner will be the folks who live in Garden City and Hidden Springs. They will get the service of a full time fire department where in some cases they have a station that isn’t even manned. Doan wants to get started by January one on the takeover.

Boise FD currently has a similar deal with the Whitney District which generally lies south and east of the city, but is protected by Boise FD on a contract. Under that deal, Boise rigs go many miles outside the city–all the way to the Elmore County line on I-84 east.

During the chief’s presentation it was also noted that no fire protection exists for the high end homes east of Bogus Basin Road and off Table Rock Road in the Boise Foothills. To his credit, Mayor Dave Bieter voiced strong reservations about providing protection to areas outside the city saying, “This is not a pay as you go thing.”

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Here’s the thing that gets me. The NACFR deal is ..well..its a done deal.

    The respective unions met on this some months ago and approved it.

    Yet its being presented as a “proposal”.

    Sounds like the ambulance issue, where the union is driving the department, not the city, not the citizens. I think this is what Monk would call a recurrent pattern of behavior.

    I really don’t have a huge gripe, it is mostly a win win I guess, except for the lack of transparency in this whole process.

  2. Boise closed a station and paid NACFR $100,000 to cover that area. If someone would be kind enough to answer a question, How much does it cost city taxpayers to cover a single station? If the answer is greater than 100K, it would seem like a good deal to me. Additionally, Boise Fire is going to staff the now empty station in Hidden Springs. This would seem to me to be a very low call volume station.

    Again, how much is this station going to cost city taxpayers to staff? How many calls are anticipated in this station. How much per call? Should the Boise taxpayers be paying to cover the Hidden Springs station at all? BG, can you find out how much money city taxpayers pay, per call for Boise Fire Dept. and how much will this increase with the takeover of NACFR? There are still so many unanswered financial questions. Please help me to understand.

    –BFD will tell you there is no added cost to citizens. They even project a “profit.”
    but that is all in how you do the accounting, staffing, etc. They are talking of a reduced manpower at the Hidden Springs station, but union will probably fight that.

    –As to your question about costs of operation etc., it is nearly impossible to compute because some stations have more staff (engine and ladder truck), others have paramedics who get a 10% bonus, still others have more runs (hence lower cost per run), some are old and costly to maintain.

    –Doan and his union guys are a new breed. They look far beyond providing good service to citizens of Boise. This new breed–not just FD– are running government like a business, trying to turn a profit and sometimes losing sight of the fact they are working for citizens and funds are limited. They will cover an area nearly 30 miles wide when all is said and done under various contracts.

  3. Well, I can pretty much promise its more than 100K Alan, and thats for one shift in payroll only.

    SO the original deal was a win win definitely. The strip of land that NACFR covers for Boise is narrow and long, and alone would be hard to justify a station just for that parcel when NACFR is so close.

    And since BFD will presumably have access to the old budget NACFR had….that may or may not cover the costs.

    With better access to BFDs fire training resources for NACFR, again a Win Win.

    With Better integration with of NACFR the FD that borders 80% or more of their area..again a win win.

    There remain serious transparency issues, budgetary accountability issues, and quite frankly…”who is really leading BFD” issues (the Union? The Chief? Or the Citizens?)

    As I said before, this is (once again) far more than a proposal. Doe that not bother anyone?
    Additionally, who distributes the funds for the NACFR contract? I strongly suspect that those funds probably wont be subject to the same public scrutiny that the city budget is, since they are a Fire Protection District (I think). No one shows up to those meetings. Just like the Whitney funds that Boise can tap into. If the $$ are spent in the area, so be it. But I would hate for those funds to be robbed to pay for Chief Doan and the IAFF local pet projects, bypassing the level of public oversight we need as citizens.

    This is why we have HUGE multi million dollar stations like station 14 and the proposed station 15.

    And what about the residents of Hidden Springs and the rest of Garden city. With BFD taking over the contract for their area, how do they have a voice? They arnt Boise Citizens, so will the city council and BFD even give them the time of day?

    As the BFD begins to grow and their revenue streams become more diverse and more difficult for a citizen to keep track of, the BG’s idea of a public safety ombudsman (in one form or another) for ALL agencies in Ada County sounds pretty good.

  4. BG and Nemo, thanks for the information.It is helpful an appreciated. My concern was primarily that the city taxpayers would be shouldering a large added debt to pay for fire protection in areas outside of the city. I agree that an ombudsman would be a good idea. Thanks again.

  5. It’s pretty clear who directs the Fire Chief. The union.

  6. First round of pay raises for the new fire guys will eat up the $100K and probably more.

  7. If Engine 203 is manned F/T, what effect will that have, if any, on response times in NW Boise? Currently BFD E-9 and NAFR 201 “cover” NW Boise, but for many areas they have a pretty long run. However, the response times from Hidden Springs also will be lengthy I would guess.

  8. Just how many ways can you say, “self-serving and non responsive”???

  9. Correct me if I’m wrong( or right and you don’t like my question) but isn’t nemo and a bunch of others in favor of a countywide merger of resources? Isn’t this a step in that direction? One less “Kingdom” to deal with? Or is everything that Boise Fire does is for evil? I think the Whitney merge was a huge success and everyone save tax money. Dave I love reading your blog but sometimes there isn’t an evil plot. Some over the commentators just have axes to grind.

  10. Boisean- Nemo is an Ada county paramedic who thinks everything Boise fire does is evil.

  11. Boisean, I don’t believe these are diabolical, evil plots. The majority are amazingly stupid and insulting to the public.
    Boise is, once again, flexing it’s muscles as the 800 lb. gorilla in Treasure Valley. At what point did the city think it was in charge of Ada County and the rest of the cities in the valley were of no concern?? It’s not just Fire. It’s virtually everything.

  12. Well said cyclops.

  13. This is crazy! As a Boise tax payer I have to subsidize area’s outside the City. I know my tax for Fire service is more than what the North ada people are paying. If people in Hidden springs want City service’s they need to be self sufficient or move Downtown and Garden City can dissolve it’s charter and let Boise annex them. What’s next, we’re gonna sell our Police Dept to the National Guard?

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