City Government

Wilderness Homes Seldom Pay Their Share For Fire Protection

The “big house on the hill” still hasn’t ponied up the $15 K the city of Boise claims they owe for fire fighting earlier this year.

The mansion near Table Rock in the Wild Horse sub is outside the city and is in fact outside ANY fire protection districts–something insurance carriers for the 18 homes probably were not aware of. Insurance underwriters rate fire departments on a scale of 1-10. Boise FD is a very respectable class 3. No fire department coverage is a class 10.

Following the blaze and resulting fight between the property owner and the city, homeowners are testing the waters about organizing their own fire district with hopes of getting either a contract deal or “mutual aid” from Boise.

Chief Dennis Doan has dug in his heels and says “no way” without water mains, hydrants, and adequate streets. He rightly notes the subdivision should never have been allowed. We have to agree with the chief on this one. Same holds true for the houses on Bogus Basin Road and quite a few others in fringe areas.

These homes in the “Urban-Wilderness interface” are high risk and get an inordinant amount of expensive fire protection through various contract and mutual aid deals between fire departments and the Bureau of Land Management.

The BLM devotes tons of air tankers, bulldozers, helicopters, and specialized ground attack engines to protecting the Boise Foothills and other areas subject to wildfire that are not necessarily federal land…money seldom changes hands when they respond.

These “exposures” as firefighters like to call them ( news reports always say, “structures are threatened”) present a major problem. Once in place, the owners expect to get fire protection–regardless of how little they pay for it. In many cases homeowners on what are often upscale lots with spectacular views are there to get out of the busy city and high tax rates, but they get the benefits of big city and Federal fire protection–all for a fraction of what it costs to provide.

CONCLUSION: Don’t allow construction in fringe areas. If people choose to live in the high risk area, they need to be prepared to suffer the loss.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Too bad the news outlet(s) weren’t credited for their reporting on this one.

  2. Question: With the insurance rating 1 to 10 is 1 the best score or is 10? I.e. is this like golf (low score is good) or bowling?

    Also, the accepted terminology is Wildland Urban Interface no Urban Wilderness Interface.

    EDITOR NOTE–Low score wins. Thank you for the clarification on terminology. You could easily get a job in government. If you do, please discourage the politicos from encouraging “dumb growth” in wildland areas like southeast of Boise.

  3. I have a problem with other folk speaking of ‘fair share’. I have found it usually means they want to extract money from someone not themselves and route it to their buddies or causes. They carefully explain how everyone has a responsibility to pay for stuff, say education, even though the folk have no kids…somehow the folk WITH kids never quite see that share…

    “Fair” is in the eyes of the beholder.

  4. Rod in SE Boise
    Sep 6, 2010, 10:10 pm

    Insurance companies rate risk, and charge premiums accordingly. Those homeowners probably pay a lot!!

    Jim, it sounds like you are saying that when you become an empty-nester, you should be excused from paying taxes for schools? If so, that kind of thinking is a direct route to making the US a third world country like Somalia or Angola – the opposite of civilized.

    EDITOR NOTE–With regard to insurance rating, chances are pretty good the insurance agents haven’t properly rated those homes without protection or the ones in fringe areas. Things like response time, water mains, access, capacity of fire engine tanks and pumps, etc. all come into play. Not all areas served by Boise FD have equal ratings–or at least they shouldn’t be equal. In most cases just saying, “We are covered by Boise FD” will get the lower class three rate instead of the 6 or 8 they deserve.

  5. Yes Rod I for one think we should be except from paying school taxes. We paid our share.

  6. At the risk of hijacking this thread, I must comment on the education tax posts. I have never had a child that attended public school. Always private schools. However I have gladly paid, and will continue to pay for good schools. As a citizen of this community, well educated members of the community means people that can fix my car, make change in a restaurant, repair my faulty plumbing,intelligently report the news, manage the stores I frequent, etc., etc. It is, to me, just an ongoing cost for a prosperous city.

    EDITOR NOTE–Now if could just get those smart people to run for office!! 🙂

  7. Good on ya Cyclops. We all benefit from an educated populace, like we do from roads, hospitals and courtrooms, whether we use them directly or not. Those who don’t wanna pay their “fair share” are easily exposed for being greedy bastards pissed about everything, or as I like to call them, tea baggers. 😉

    Get offa my lawn!

  8. Have you ever seen a christmas tree burn or should I say explode! Every time I see news coverage of fires I see homes enveloped in conifers. (that’s christmas trees to the rest of you)

    I also see a lot of shake roofs in these areas as well. Do these people think their diety will protect them from a fire?

    Defensable space around a home with fire retardant roofs and siding should be manditory or suffer the consequences.

    We are allowing houses to be built in areas that are nothing but fuel for a range fire or forrest fire. Let’em burn and buy everyone a new double-wide to replace the places that go up in smoke. It would be a whole lot cheaper in the long run.

  9. Rod, your comment assumes the money we spend on Education actually, well, ‘educates’. It does not. I pays for for a good life style for educators. Now also figure that the folk with kids pay less taxes than those without yet use more services and you have my problem with ‘fair’.

  10. Rod in SE Boise
    Sep 8, 2010, 2:18 pm

    Jim, your comment and your attitude assume that some of our tax dollars spent on education are wasted. Are teacher salaries wasted money? Of course not, but you would want them to live in caves just because they work for da gubment.

    I’d be interested to find out how you know that folks with kids pay less taxes than those who don’t have kids. (And if you are thinking of the personal exemption on the federal form 1040, that doesn’t count – schools are paid for by property taxes, a whole different kettle of fish.)

  11. Rod in SE Boise
    Sep 8, 2010, 2:21 pm

    Sisyphus, I have heard the tea partiers (or tea baggers) referred to as the “something for nothing crowd”.

  12. Rod, schools are not entirely paid by property taxes.
    That reminds me of a BPD who told an arrested perp that since the arrestee was renting and didn’t pay property taxes the perp was not paying his salary. WrOng! Unfortunately our public schools don’t reveal enough in local govt.

    in 2005 65% fo school funds from state funds (lets assume its similar in current year).

    State income taxes are based on federal income tax laws and the more kids you have, the less you pay in taxes.

    None the less, we all benefit from a good public education. And that’s what we have in Idaho.

    We also all benefit from not having 70 year old ladies begging on the corner.
    If I die before age67 I’ll NEVER get that benefit.
    That’s how our “capitalism” works.

  13. “Jim, your comment and your attitude assume that some of our tax dollars spent on education are wasted. Are teacher salaries wasted money?”

    About 80% of all educations dollars goes to pay and benefits for employees. That leaves 20% for buildings, fuel, buses, books, supplies, electricity, etc, etc…The ‘average’ teacher in a host of regions makes far more than the median family income of the folk in their communities. The money is paid without any regard to competence per union contract.

    As to taxes, yes the income tax counts as the state income tax is based on the federal one with all exemptions counted and hundred of millions in education spending comes from the state in addition to property taxes. Ask the legislature. In addition, millions more comes from the feds which also get money from the income tax which does allow child deductions, not to mention college deductions.

  14. Capitalism:
    The rich get richer and the poor gets whats left over.

  15. sam the sham
    Sep 9, 2010, 2:03 pm

    It’s not Boise – but….
    Just a note about the fire in Frazier Creek area of Garden Valley. The fire fighters of Crouch took care of possible house fires allowing the hot shots to do their jobs in taking care of the forest fire a few weeks ago.
    (not that Frazier Creek homes are in Boise, but it’s nice to see the two entities working together…as well as neighbors helping in any way.)

  16. Rod in SE Boise
    Sep 10, 2010, 8:01 pm

    So, if some education funding comes from state income tax, then I can only conclude that income tax payers in Boise are subsidizing education in Filer, for instance. Think about that one for a while.

    Teachers earn: “more than the median family income” in some areas because those teachers are the most educated people there, and likely doing the most important work. Nothing wrong with that.

  17. Just a Thought
    Sep 10, 2010, 9:42 pm

    Gee Robert….you sound like one of those people who are evious of others who, unlike you, actually get up of their lazy @3!!# and work hard to earn the money they have….so why the heck shouldn’t they deserve it! Your the socialist type who thinks they are entitled, stop it!

  18. Just a thought…Hummm you must be the guy at the top that just took the big bonus while cutting health care and cutting wages 20%. Did you just get a bail out to?

  19. just a thought
    Sep 11, 2010, 3:29 pm

    Robert…..poeple like you will never get past being bitter about others who are successful. First of all, I am the guy at the top…top of me, myself and I. I work for myself and have no employees to screw over as you would put it. Second, no… I did not get a bail out! Third, it’s call working 70+ hours a week for years building “my” business to the point where I do make….and have a good deal of money. Why? Because “I” did something about it rather sit around and “expect” everyone to do something for me. You are the classic socialist! Peace out!

    EDITOR NOTE– You guys are way off topic on fire protection and beginning to not “play nice.” THREAD CLOSED!

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