City Government

Fire Station Closure May Hurt Boise Service

The proposed closure of the North Ada County Fire and Rescue station on Chinden will increase response times to Boise City residents, thanks to past bad decisions and present economic woes.

About 15 years ago Boise FD closed #6 station at Fairview and Allumbaugh and relocated it to Franklin Road near Cole to service the Mall. The Mall was to have financed the deal, but never did.

To take up the slack, Boise paid about $250,000 annually to the North Ada District (formerly known as Cole-Collister) to cover the Fairview area previously covered by old Boise #6.

The GUARDIAN reported in December that Chief Dennis Doan sold the council on a complex takeover deal of the North Ada District that included the smaller district providing stations and equipment while Boise took over the manpower and expanded its coverage area clear out to Hidden Springs and halfway up Bogus Basin Road. Boise is to receive about $3.5 million from NACFAR.

NACFAR has been hit by reduced revenues due to declining property values. Their current revenue stream is projected at under $3 million.

Now it looks like longtime city residents will suffer longer responses—all thanks to accommodating GROWTH. The system is simply stretched too thin.

Doan was adamant in a STATESMAN story claiming the reduction would NOT be in Boise. When a station serving Boise is closed, how can it NOT effect Boise?

We talked to a NACFAR commish who conceded the smaller district probably will not be able to live up to its end of the agreement with Boise FD. The two departments are negotiating to determine how much more NACFAR will have to pay BFD when the station closes.

Finally, Doan says in the following press release the ENTIRE BUDGET for the NACFD has dropped to about $3 million. That means they stand to be in breach of contract to Boise not only for the station they agreed to provide, but they will be short on cash they owe Boise as well!


Boise, August 19, 2010 – As the fire district that serves Garden City faces large budget shortfalls, Boise Fire Chief Dennis Doan wants Boise City taxpayers to know their service and their taxes will not be affected by what’s happening with the other fire district’s budget.

The North Ada County Fire district’s budget shortfall is estimated to be approximately $1 million, leaving the district with a budget of approximately $3 million for 2011, compared to approx $4 million in 2009.

“The North Ada County Fire District is responsible for solving its own budget problems,” said Chief Doan. “If the budget deficits mean the Chinden fire station closes, that will affect response times in Garden City, not in the City of Boise. These are two separate political taxing districts that may result in two different levels of service.”

Chief Doan says a decision on how to make up a budget deficit won’t be finalized until later this month. However, the Chief says closing the NACFR station at 3895 Chinden Blvd. would save the fire district an amount almost equal to the shortfall.

With Boise Fire’s assistance, NACFR will be applying for a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant. If successful, NACFR may be able to re-open the fire station. SAFER was created to provide funding directly to fire departments in order to help them increase the number of trained, “front line” firefighters available in their communities. The goal of SAFER is to enhance local fire departments abilities to comply with staffing, response and operational standards established by the NFPA and OSHA

How might closing the NACFR Fire Station on Chinden affect service to NACFR taxpayers in Garden City?

Chief Doan says the NACFR fire station on Glenwood would still be the primary responder for the district, meaning response times may increase on the east end of Garden City by an estimated 3 to 5 minutes. As is done today, Boise Fire crews may also be called to assist the NACFR stations if needed.

If the Chinden fire station closes, what happens to those employees?

Chief Doan says the Boise Fire Department currently has vacant firefighter positions. If the NACFR Commissioners choose to close the fire station on Chinden, the firefighters would be absorbed by filling current vacancies within the Boise Fire Department so that no firefighter will loose their job.

Background: How are NACFR and Boise Fire connected?

The North Ada County Fire District entered into a contract for services with the Boise Fire Department at the end of 2009. The contract designates the Boise Fire Department to manage fire operations for the NACFR district. The contract was meant to create operational efficiencies for both departments.

Under the contract, NACFR employees became employees of the Boise Fire department. However, the City of Boise bills the NACFR taxing district for the cost of those employees (so costs for the employees are actually paid for by taxpayers in the NACFR district, not Boise City). The NACFR district maintains ownership of district property, including the two fire stations in Garden City and one in Hidden Springs (the Hidden Springs fire station is not staffed). NACFR commissioners also maintain decision making authority over taxing and budgeting issues.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Wait a second. I remember reading many posts and stories on this web site not too long ago about the City of Boise attempting to add ambulances to their fleet and to add paramedics to their ranks and add more equipment in order to have ambulances, blah blah blah. Now they are not even sure if they can keep fire stations open!?!?! BG, I guess I don’t understand what happened. Why is the fire department thinking they may have to close a station all of a sudden?
    I guess I can now wait for the fear inspired “we better raise taxes or people’s lives are going to be in danger.” Maybe this time we will hear “we better change some of the higher-ups”
    If taxes are raised even more, there better be some way to make sure it is just to maintain current fire stations and NOT used for any pre-possible closure projects!

    EDITOR NOTE– Read the Statesman link. It is North Ada that is closing Chinden station, but it serves as much area in Boise as it does in Garden City.

  2. It’s time to consolidate all fire and police at the County level.

  3. When will elected officials figure out growth really does need to pay for itself. Tax base hungry politicians give little, if any thought to the problems and high costs of accomdating sprawl and stretching city services beyond a reasonable limit.

    A lot of cities have snapped a line around their cities and declared “this is city and this is ag land” and managed to stick to their guns. All of them that do have created a much better environment for all residents. Urban infill and renewal of what is already there keeps everyone’s tax liablility lower. Cities do not have to constantly play SIM CITY by expanding all manner of city services, police and fire support.

  4. Local fire service is already consolidated…sort of. Read old BG stories from last December when Boise Fire entered into an agreement to consolidate with North Ada, just in time for North Ada to go bust.

    The chief says (on the Statesman site)that this will not fall on the backs of Boise taxpayers. It absolutelt WILL fall on us. With one of the two North Ada stations closing, BOISE WILL cover for the missing station. WE WILL PAY to provide fire services in Garden City, PLUS, OUR fire station will be empty while OUR fire truck is over there.

  5. I’m sorry, Captain Doan,uh, I mean Chief. To say that this station closing is Garden City’s problem and not Boise’s is simply BS! The contract the city signed with Ada fire makes Boise responsible for fire protection in the Ada district. When a station closes, Boise will have to take up the slack.

    Nice job bringing the Titanic into your fleet, just so you can be in charge of more boats.

  6. When Doan was appointed chief, I agreed to give him a certain “honeymoon” while he proved himself worthy. It is becoming more clear by the day, that he is just another bureaucrat that runs more than a little wide of the truth and says what he, and bieter, thinks what people WANT to hear, rather than the truth! “Another one bites the dust!”
    This is becoming extremely tiresome!

  7. Hopefully this will help people begin to see how poorly the fire dept in this city is run. It’s all about control and power and nothing to do with quality service. Nice job “chief” Doan on trying to distance your self from NACFR and the current monies problems. And to say it won’t affect Boise? E18 (the Chinden station) responds up the hill into Boise often, all the way up to Fairview so how can you say this is not YOUR problem? You could not sneak into the EMS business so you ran to take over North Ada and failed at that too. Maybe stick to working on your job, which is watering burned down houses.

  8. I don’t remember the propaganda for the bond talking about an overall shortfall in the District. It talked about the need for a new station, Ada County throwing them out (turned out to be not quite true), earthquake, flood… but nothing about the overall health of the District. Then, when the bond fails, we find out that there was no money to even operate the new station.. or the rest of the District for that matter. Seems deceptive to me.

  9. I watched Doan’s interview on channel 7 last night…I could tell from his tone that even he didn’t believe what he was saying. When that station on Chinden is gone, boise’s trucks will be in Garden City all the time, which means that they won’t be in Boise.
    Election season is only a year away. Get rid of this mayor and the fire chief goes, too.

  10. Shawn Spencer
    Aug 20, 2010, 9:40 am

    What about the buracrats that are running Ada Fire? The current commish is the same guy that took thousands of tax payer dollars in the 90’s in “over time Pay” as the director of EMS and almost ran that org into the ground. Isn’t Ada Fire deserve some blame here too for not managing their own problem?

  11. Just a Thought
    Aug 20, 2010, 10:31 am

    If you look back in history, NACFR had a very strong volunteer organization which did a very good job at helping the district with staffing and prevented them from having to spend additional money to pay a full-timer on “call back” and/or pay overtime. However, if you were to ask the union full-timers, volunteers were stealing food out of their kids mouths and affecting their ability to make a living. (keep in mind that the guy who made the statement had a new truck, pulling a new boat and had a belly that hung 3″ over is belt line….starving huh?) Last time I checked, nobody has a right to have extra shifts given to them or accrue any overtime.

    You can thank driver….ooops, I mean chief knoelk for disassembling the Volunteer Organization and eventually eliminating it. This Organization was an huge cost-saving benefit to the district in addition to providing the citizens of Garden City AND Boise City with increased staffing levels. Also… keep in mind when NACFR would respond to an emergency call, the volunteers would come to the station and provide additional coverage for the district and be ready for the next call while the full-time crews were out. Volunteers were only reimbursed a minimal amount anywhere from 8 to 13 dollars an hour which covered their gas driving back and forth to the station and paying for their own required duty station gear. Even station 3 was staffed partime during the summer months which is a heck of a lot more then it is staffed now.

    Gee….maybe these “vollies” (as the union would coin them) had more pride in serving there community than making the almighty “entitled” buck??

    I’ll end with this. Far be it from me to suggest that if the “higher ups” would have to look at volunteers in order to reduce cost and not have to close any stations. They are a great resource of well trained; dedicated to the same IFSAC State I certification level…. and the minimum EMT basic or higher as the BFD or NACFR guys are at…… Which goes without saying “We are ALL professionals”

  12. Any statistics available? It seems all these newer homes and building are less likely to burn than 40 years ago?? If it’s yours the chances are 100%, but I’m just asking about overall statistics. It’s seems we are paying more and more for something new building materials and building codes have taken care of.

    I too recall a time when the five guys on the big red truck pushed a lawn mower when on duty to save money by multi-tasking.

  13. Sean Spencer
    Aug 21, 2010, 12:43 am

    I can’t wait for the BFD union to jump on “Jump a Thoughts” comments from above, criticizing the quality of service of “vollies
    vs. paid/career FF. Before they do that, let me remind them that of the 30,000 or so Fire Departments in the U.S. today (86% are either mostly volunteer or all volunteer. That comes your own US Fire Admin organization. ( There are entire departments on the east coast that are 100% volunteer and opportunity at the same quality of service as BFD or any other FD in the U.S. To “Just a thoughts” comments, I am not sure why we have erradicted a completely solid method for amending our FF force with North Ada County Fire with high-quality volunteers that would not only service their community with honor (and have in the past) but also offer a cost advantage to the tax payer.

  14. james Scott
    Aug 25, 2010, 6:56 pm

    Wow, after reading some of these posts it’s actually scary how “clueless” some of these so called postings are. As a Firefighter/Paramedic from out of state I was privileged enough to have served and retired after 30 amazing years. For some of you to say “well there’s not as many fire’s” or “why don’t we use more volunteer’s these days” it just brings forward how uneducated some of you really are. Are there less fire’s these day’s, yes but firefighting has never been more dangerous. Homes/buildings of the past were built to last and we were able to go into homes without the worry of immediate collapse, deadly gases, and numerous other dangers we never had to worry about. Firefighting of today is a 100 times more dangerous than the past, and I can honestly say I would second guess a career in firefighting if I had to do it in todays world. As for ‘just a thought/sean Spencer” you gan get a “study” from anywhere that says whatever you want about whatever you want or slanted anyway. Trust me the only reasons any city has a “volunteer dept” or volunteers is because they can’t get the manpower, or they are just too small of a town. Not to take anything away from the incredible job volunteers have to do. But there is a reason the astronomical number of firefighters that die every year is. If you look at the #’s a huge percentage comes from them, 1 because of their shear number, but also for the lack of training, the amount of time it now takes for engines (manpower) to arrive location, and numerous other things. Like everything in this day and age we progress, hopefully for the better. Moving from a volunteer dept to a career dept is truly the best decision a city can ever do for its citizens. This city is privileged enough to have one of the better dept’s in the united States and for people for to constantly try and add their “2 cents”into everything it just gets old. Maybe you should visit a fire station sometime and talk with some firefighters instead of reading garbage articles from the internet, maybe you’ll actually really learn something then!!!!!!

    EDITOR NOTE–I don’t think most people would disagree. Our problems here are political rather than “tactical.” We are a class 3 department, but it has become a contractual business with Boise providing service to other areas. These rural areas find it cheaper to pay Boise to provide service, but their patrons pay lower taxes than if they lived in the city. Firefighters are well trained, talented and dedicated. Politicians are not.

  15. James, In a few years we will not have the money to continue to have the expensive departments. That means pensions too. And no, you can’t make me pay. As you will see a few years after those who are funding your retirement can see now, we’ve reached a turning point on expensive and overpaid. 100 times? BS and you know it. Lots of BS to justify the 100 time the cost of the past. The days for this kind of crazy spending are over, I promise.

  16. Zippo, I guess there’s not much reasoning to do when someone has obviously made up their mind, however wrong it may be!! It appears you have a lot of animosity towards the fire dept, and firefighters in general. Maybe you are bitter as you are unable to do such a physical job, or maybe you have been unable to pass the testing process????? I don’t know and frankly I don’t care!!!! But to sit back from wherever you are writing from and to say too “expensive and overpaid” is just plain naive. Is there “crazy spending” going out there yes, and unfortunately that is why were in the position were in now. Maybe I’m misunderstanding you but it appears you point the finger primarily at the fire dept. I for one and am willing to pay my taxes knowing that in the unfortunate event I have to dial 911, I will have the best possible trained personnel show up at my door to help either my family or I. And to say firefighters are “overpaid” I don’t know if I should even justify that with a comment!!! That is just plain ignorant. Firefighting as you know is one of the most dangerous jobs in America, never truly knowing if they are going to make it home to their family & kids the next day, the traumatic events they have to be part of and take home each and every day, for this I am also talking about Ambulance services!!!! And to put a price on that, I guess tells me alot about the person you must be! There are not many jobs in America where I would say they should make more money, but this is one. Time and time again wether it is a movie being made, a documentary, or even just a plain old interview, the census is the same. Firefighters are underpaid and undermanned for the job they are having to do!!!!!!

  17. No not fire department specific; although they do spend a lot of time and money marketing themselves as special in an effort sell us on the huge costs relative to years gone by. There are many jobs just as dangerous etc. Most people in this country work hard and do important things without near as much horn honking. I’m happy they are there, but don’t forget it’s what we pay for too.

    No, my comments are directed at the gross disconnect between bureaucrats and the citizen/economy. Government has grown beyond the ability of our economy to support it. This is not personal, this is fact. It’s why our bond ratings are in danger of slipping. It has occurred because the powers that be have refused to place reasonable and prudent demands on the taxpayer while also giving away the store to the rest of the world and those who don’t work. They have failed in the leadership role we entrusted them with. We will go through a period of time were government acts like a bully and takes what they want, but when they have exhausted those sources the expensive services will vanish.

    The only solution is to restart the core economy based on new technology/ideas, durable goods manufacturing exports, and special services exports, while reducing government drag. The alternative is a very different looking America, many examples of which litter the world and history. Even the pay checks to the Roman Army bounced in the end.

  18. Just a Thought
    Aug 28, 2010, 3:15 pm

    James….let’s not be making assumptions here. First of all, I have been a Volunteer Fireman/Paramedic now for 20 years….So I have been there and I also know what it is like risking my life. I agree where training levels and proficiency are sporadic at best, but there are a number of us that have just as many credentials as a full timer does. In addition, there are many volunteer stations that are manned “ready to go”, equal to the initial response time of a paid department.

    My statement to you is that I do support both a full time and volunteer departments. My reasoning, in this case, is to compliment the career staff while giving a cost saving benefit to tax payers in the form of less overtime, less call back, and additional staffing where there are stations within the same district that are cost prohibitive to staff. An example would be planned communities that are away from the core city, however still in the fire district. This is the case for North Ada Co’s third station in the “Hidden Springs development” This area is a 11 +/- minute response from the next closest engine from NACFR. Volunteers were used to staff this station part time…a huge benefit to the taxpayers and citizens that live there.
    I do support career departments, I just believe the career departments do not support the volunteers in the same manner.

    This day and age of budget disasters….It just makes economic sense to utilize a lesser expensive but qualified individuals to help alleviate fiscal strains most…….if not all departments are facing. If NACFR would have continued with what they had before…It would be realistic to believe that this station would not be closing.

  19. Sean Spencer
    Aug 31, 2010, 9:39 pm

    James-In terms of your suggest of “visiting a fire station”, you are welcome to visit mine anytime.
    Like “Just a thought”, I too am an experienced FF/medic, so your comments of being “uneducated” are inappropiate and inaccurate at best. In terms of Internet studies, I think rather than making hasty generalizations about cities not having the manpower or budgets for career vs. volunteer departs, your logic couldn’t be further from the truth. As a 5 year volunteer paramedic/FF with the Town of Canton (CT), I have the same standards and qualifications as my brothers and sisters in FT paid depts in surrounding cities. We have response times and quality of care and service that equal to surrounding FT paid departments. So how do you explain that?

  20. Just a Thought
    Sep 1, 2010, 10:10 pm

    Good to see the support Sean. The senseless arguments regarding full timers and unions drives me nuts!!

    Take care my friend!!

  21. Hey James, What are you earning a year from CALPERS?and why is that organization going broke? Oh yeah It would be because private enterprise has been taxed out of CA to pay for union contracts.

    P.S. James I know it is damn close to six figures a year

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