It seems like volunteer fire departments are always begging for money. There are good reasons for that.
Volunteer fire departments depend on three main sources of revenue: taxes, grants, and donations.
Tax dollars alone are not sufficient to support most departments including Gallatin River Ranch Rural Fire District (GRRRFD). Undeveloped property contributes very little to the tax base of the district. The majority of the revenues collected are from taxes on properties with homes. The mil rate for GRRRFD is one of the highest in Montana. The $106,246 collected in 2017 covered routine operations after changing to an all-volunteer staff, but it does not allow for the purchase of additional equipment or development of new services. For example, the acquisition of a cardiac defibrillator/monitor cost $15,000, and required a fundraiser.
Volunteer fire departments do not function on tax dollars alone.
The GRR Homeowner Association donated $24,000 per year from the start of the district through 2016. This contribution decreased in 2017 and will be eliminated as of July, 2018. This HOA support provided “seed money” when the Fire District was formed and enabled it to hire a series of paid chiefs. It was never meant to be a permanent revenue stream.
Grants can provide some support. They were critical to the initial acquisition of apparatus and equipment. However, grant money is difficult to get and complex to manage. Our small district fortunately has a very low call volume. These put us at a disadvantage compared to larger busier department competing for this limited grant money. The last grants approved for GRRRFD were in 2014. The District will participate in regional grants when opportunities arise, but its ability to secure grants by itself is very limited.
Donations from Fire District residents is our most important supplement to tax revenues. The GRRRFD is fortunate to have many residents who have generously contributed to the district. The 2015 fundraiser enabled the department to purchase a 2004 Ford Wildland engine. This truck required repairs which were covered by the funds raised. The 2017 fundraiser enabled the department to purchase a refurbished LifePak-12 Cardiac Defibrillator/Monitor. This piece of equipment is a critical component of the Fire District’s “Your Heart Matters” program, and will enable a substantial upgrade in EMS services.
The needs of a fire department never end. We need to upgrade the EMS Quick Response Unit to meet State requirements. We need to acquire additional medications and equipment to upgrade our EMS capability to better meet community needs. Our water tender is old, small, and so under powered it cannot get up some of our hills, and should be replaced. A key to supporting volunteer training and effectiveness is the money District residents contribute. The GRR Fire Department and its Board of Trustees are fiscally conservative stewards of the funds entrusted in them and gratefully thank Fire District residents contributions.
Contributions to Gallatin River Ranch Rural Fire District are deductible under Section 170(c)(1) of the IRS code.
The Gallatin River Ranch Fire Department needs a few good firefighters!
The Active Volunteer Firefighter team trains for and deploys in the event of an emergency medical call, structure and wildland fires, and rescue calls. Members of this team train on the first and third Monday of each month between 4 pm to 6 pm, and participate in other training activities with regional firefighting partners, particularly Manhattan Volunteer Fire Department. New members are on a probationary status for the first six months of membership. All active firefighters are expected to attend a minimum of 3o hours of department training a year; at least 50% of regularly scheduled twice-monthly training drills. They must participate in at least 30% of department calls. Active firefighters are issued a pager, radio, and personal protective equipment.
Firefighting is a strenuous activity that requires good cardiovascular health, a strong back and musculoskeletal system, and a clear mind. This is not for everyone. That said, we have roles within the department that may accommodate otherwise qualified individuals who have some limitations. People interested in serving the community in the fire department who have limitations that might pose a problem as an active member should consider Reserve membership.
To apply, use the contact portion on this website or contact either John Andrews, Executive Assistant, or Chief Sprow. The application process includes submitting an application, a photocopy of your Montana driver license, and undergoing a criminal and Montana driving background check with First Choice Background Checks after an interview.
Active Firefighters are covered by the District’s liability insurance policy, Montana Worker’s Compensation, and two Accidental Death and Dismemberment policies. The District pays for their membership in the National Volunteer Fire Council and will pay 75% of the cost of membership at the Manhattan Athletic Club.
The Gallatin River Ranch Fire Department needs a few good Reserve Members!
Reserve Members perform a number of critical department functions that do not require the full training or capability of an Active Volunteer Firefighter. The three fundamental reserve functions are to serve as “Follow Me” drivers, water source pump operators, and traffic managers. Other opportunities exist depending on a reservist’s interest and background. The department is particularly interested in people with prior training and experience in firefighting, law enforcement, or medical services.
Nearly every call in the GRR Fire District will involve “help on the way”, be it an ambulance or a mutual aid agency. American Medical Response (AMR) ambulances are sent to every GRRFD medical call. A “Follow Me” vehicle is sent to meet the AMR ambulance at the front gate. By having a reservist do this, active firefighters can concentrate on scene management. Aid from Manhattan Volunteer Fire Department is requested in all structure fires. A “Follow Me” reservist or two are sent to meet Manhattan at the front gate. In bigger fires where aid must arrive through the back gate, reservists will be sent to unlock the gate and serve as “Follow Me” vehicles. In bigger incidents, teams of two “Follow Me” vehicles will be deployed to work as “tag teams”. The same needs are present in the wildland fire and rescue incidents.
Reservists are trained to operate the pumps at Mossy Rock Pond and at the cistern/well at River Camp. In structure or wildland fires, these members are critical to efficient filling of tenders supplying water to the firefighters at the incident.
Reservists may also help with traffic control and information to district residents in certain circumstances.
Reservists will have several training drills each year to learn and review pump operations and details of their deployment various incidents and at least one “all hands” training drill with the whole GRRFD team. Reservists help is needed and welcome in routine apparatus inspections and cleaning and station cleaning. Reservists are invited to each routine training drill but are not required to attend these drills. Reservists are encouraged but not required to get AHA Basic Life Support (BLS) with AED training. Certain reservists may apply for department support to pursue additional training to enhance their skill set and ability to participate in certain department activities, such as EMS services.
Reserve members are covered by the Fire District’s liability insurance program as well as Montana Worker’s Compensation for any duty-related incidents. The Fire District also provides Accidental Death and Dismemberment insurance.
To learn more or apply, use the contact form on this website or contact Reserve Supervisor Spencer Millimen.
The Gallatin River Ranch Fire Department needs a few good Auxiliary Members!
Auxiliary Members volunteer to aid in a number of important department functions. The two main functions of the auxiliary are to organize social engagement events and to provide the ability to deploy an effective and efficient firefighter rehab site in the event of a fire.
The GRRFD depends on the auxiliary to organize events each quarter and at other times as deemed appropriate. These events typically have a fundraising component, but are meant to be fun social events that enable Fire District residents to meet and socialize with the Fire Department, and get some education in the process. Education includes Hands-Only CPR training at least twice a year, Fire Preparedness, and other subjects.
The Auxiliary Team trains to establish firefighter rehabilitation sites. No, this isn’t physical or other “rehab”. Firefighting is a strenuous activity that leads to heat stress and dehydration. Firefighters battling structure or wildland fires need a safe break area where they can cool off in hot weather or get shelter in winter or rainstorms. They need to rest, sit down, possibly lie down, hydrate, and get something to eat. The auxiliary team is trained to set up and manage rehab sites. These may be in tents or in buildings, depending on the direction of the Fire Incident Commander.
Maria Fraser is the GRRFD Auxiliary Supervisor. The auxiliary is not a gender-based group. Those interested in joining the auxiliary should either contact Maria Fraser or use the Contact Us function on this website