City Government

Boise Fire Beyond The Limits


We have to side up with Boise FD Chief Dennis Doan and the City Attorney when it comes to collecting $15,000 from the owner of a $500,000 house outside the city which caught fire in 2007.

Boise FD responded to the blaze off Table Rock Rock in a subdivision known as Wildhorse, even though it is outside the city and not in any fire district. Owners of the elite homes do not pay for fire service of any kind and Gary Campbell has refused to pay the City for responding to his home. The homes in the area don’t qualify for annexation into either the Whitney District (which Boise covers by contract) or the City due to lack of infrastructure such as street width, water mains, and response times.

Where we part ways with Doan and City officials is the recent agreement to provide fire service to the North Ada County District which includes Bogus Basin Road and Hidden Springs. Those residents previously applied for annexation into the North Ada district which offered a lower level of response and a much lower tax rate than that paid by Boise residents.

They got a sweet deal because the highly rated (by insurance underwriter standards) Boise FD responds to these rural areas under a new contract. Boise provides premium protection and bargain prices for those residents.

Chief Dennis Doan informs us he has another agreement with the State Transportation Dept. to respond at the rate of $153 per hour for an engine and crew of three firefighters along a 13 mile stretch of I-84 east of Boise. Previously the department was responding without compensation.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Steve Edgar
    Feb 23, 2010, 8:12 am

    All great points. To further expand the discussion, I might add that when we approve Planned Communities outside the commonly accepted International Fire Code Response times we are providing tacit approval and acknowledgement of calculated risks such as this example. I understand that very often we require the developer to provide Fire Station land and even some monetary support until enough “rooftops” are in place to support the taxes required; this often does not fulfill expectations. Hidden Springs Fire Department history serves as an example to that point. These facts need to be highlighted and the public safety must always drive approval of large projects outside fire district coverage or accepted response time standards.

  2. I don’t believe Mr. Campbell has “refused” to pay. In a radio interview yesterday, he has turned the bill over to his insurance company.
    My question is why would the city respond to a non covered address in the first place? That non response policy has been in effect for many years. The daily rag made the statement that “the BFD CHOSE to respond.” Historically, homeowners that are not in a fire district pay much larger premiums because their insurance company knows that in case of a fire, there will be much greater losses due to no fire response. Oh! And just a quick note to chief Doan. How was the working vacation? Be careful what you put on your facebook!

  3. This goes to the issue of the great independents who choose to live “on their own” yet take advantage of all the services the rest of us pay for.

    This fire could potentially have created another great foothills catastrophe causing havoc for people who do pay their share of the cost for maintaining this community.
    Mr. Campbell has chosen to live “off the grid” but continues to take advantage of all the infrastructure that allows him to make the final quarter mile drive to his wilderness retreat.
    Choosing to build outside the fire district is like choosing to not wear a seatbelt.
    Campbell’s “independence” has real costs for the rest of us when bad things happen. Campbell should pay the city and take it up with his insurance carrier.

  4. So, wait a minute. The BFD will respond to the freeway out past Micron if a 1973 Dodge is burning, but not to a half-million dollar home full of someone’s lifetime of possessions that you can see from the Statehouse?

    EDITOR NOTE–Amen brother Glen! Logic does NOT prevail. The home doesn’t deserve fire protection without ADVANCED payment (taxes) anymore than it deserves fire insurance without advance payment….the 73 Dodge is toast anyway you cut it 10 miles from the station.

  5. The other question is how does one rebuild a 7,000 square foot home on four acres of land and get an assessed value of only $500,000 while the neighbor nearby had a 5,800 sf house on 2.5 acres but a valuation of $1.49 million?

  6. Roasting Marshmallows
    Feb 24, 2010, 7:39 am

    A couple of things, First fire protection is very much about fire prevention. Stopping a small one a few miles down the road makes a lot more sense than fighting a huge conflagration when it gets to town. If the resources are available, they should dowse the small ones, even if they are way out there.

    Second, as for the county’s and the state’s responsibilities for structure fires, the G-Man is right, but it starts upstream of the fire stations. The state land use planning act calls for high density development to be directed towards urban areas. Trouble is, Ada County routinely approves junk like Avimor, Hammer Flat, and others, miles from town, and recklessly goes so far as to waive Wildland Urban Fire Interface (WUFI) standards. And, the AG turns a blind eye to the county violating state code. In light of that, I think the BFD should send a bill to Ada County and the state when they put out a fire one of the county’s far development farces.

  7. BoiseCitizen
    Feb 24, 2010, 8:06 am

    Dave, I have heard that Idaho Dept. of Transportation has an agreement with the BFD to provide coverage out to the county line, I do not know if there is any money involved or how that works.

    EDITOR NOTE– Many years ago there was a MEMORANDUM of UNDERSTANDING (MOU) between Ada County and Whitney FD. It has long expired and BFD just does it. There is indeed a need, but not necessarily to be filled by Boise. I would suggest an “I-84 Rescue Squad” staffed by volunteers and funded by the County. They have such squad through the Eastern seaboard.

  8. Probably does not have the money. Like all the other people who used to think they were rich.

  9. I84 rescue squad…now there’s an idea. What would even make it better is if Dave (The Editor of this fine media outlet)was the Chief, Cyclops the Capt., Nemo the driver and Lisa the hose dragger. Oh what a better state we would live in. Good idea Dave…anything is possible, now reach for your dreams!!

    EDITOR NOTE– Honored you see the value in my leadership qualities! Such a QRU would relieve the call load on the Boise FD which is already short staffed. Any of you remember the “free fire truck” the old Triangle Dairy used to offer as a public service?

  10. WOW…Thanks for tha offer but I already have a fire job. I have the trucks, 30 of them, that would handle most anything on the interstate from fire to ems response…You need a Job?.

  11. If I am to be Captain, I want to drive!! Sorry Nemo!

  12. I agree with G-Man, except if it’s property owned by a cop, Tea Party member,vet, mini-rancher or anyone trying to mess with our constitution. Let’s make freedom free again, especially for those in the free freedom movement!

  13. How does one get fire insurance in an area without a fire district? It must be terribly expensive. If the gentleman has insurance, why would it take two years to pay up?

    This sounds like a fish story to me.

    EDITOR NOTE– We don’t know the details of his policy of course, but given his ZIP code address the insurance company probably assumed he was within the Boise FD area, or at least a sub urban coverage area. Only speculation, but the insurance company may be holding up his claim because he was NOT within a fire protection district.

  14. There should be a lien placed on the property then the fire dept. should sue for compensation. Of course, the judge could always say the fire department shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

    Meanwhile those of us who regularly pay for fire protection are getting, well, you know what….

  15. Mr. Campbell knew exactly what he was doing when he built where he did, just like Hidden Spring residents expected their charter school to admit ONLY premier students because those people are worth more than you or I. If fire fighters are expected to put their lives on the line for some idiot who knows damn good and well he built in dangerous territory not covered, then HE should pay for funeral costs, life insurance costs, living costs, of the families of any fire fighters who potentially could lose their lives messing around with his preeeeeeecious home that’s better than yours or mine.

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