MVRFD approves resolution to build new fire station in Varney area

The Madison Valley Rural Fire Department (MVRFD) board approved a resolution to enter into a construction contract to build a new fire station in the Shining Mountains Subdivision at a special meeting on Dec. 31.

The MVRFD currently serves Ennis and the Madison Valley from two fire stations—located in Ennis and south of Cameron—covering 1,287 square miles from the Idaho border to the Norris Hill.

According to Ted Liss, MVRFD board chairperson, the plan for a new station was first developed a few years ago.

“We started some time ago with putting together a strategic plan to learn how to get the new station and learn where it would need to be,” Liss said. “In March [2013], we put the plan to a public vote—voters approved a $985,000 obligation bond to build a fire station and purchase a fire truck.”

The application for the bond was approved in late June, according to Liss. At least $50,000 of the $985,000 bond had to be obligated by Jan. 1, 2014. The board spent some of that money on preparations for building the station and at the Dec. 31 meeting, the board entered into a contract with G & G Housing Inc. out of Whitehall for $549,380, after cutting costs from the proposed bid of $586,305, Liss said.

“We selected the lowest bid from all we received but it still came in higher than expected,” Liss said. “We budgeted around $500,000 for construction so we will have to add about $50,000 with this contract and we still have a fire engine to buy.”

According to board trustee Bernie Oglietti, the $985,000 will help cover the expenses of three new projects. First, the construction of a new station; second, the purchase of a new fire engine for the Ennis station; and finally, the purchase of two pieces of refurbished apparatus for the new station.

“The three projects to be completed were to be covered with money from two sources—the bond and a one time, $100,000 transfer from a [fire department] fund for capital projects,” Oglietti said. “That got us to a project fund of $1,085,000.”

The station will be located on the Fish Hatchery Road approximately a quarter of a mile from the Fish Hatchery and Diamondback Road—the Shining Mountains Subdivision.

Construction is set to begin as soon as the weather permits in the spring of 2014, according to Liss.

“We anticipate nearing completion around July 1,” Liss said. “We are still dealing with purchasing the fire truck—we will have about $400,000 to purchase the [Ennis Station] truck with, though the process of getting a fire truck can take up to three years.”

According to Liss, the board is looking at other ways to purchase a fire engine.

“We may be able to find a truck manufacturer with a demo engine we could purchase at a reduced cost,” he explained.

Oglietti initially wanted to set aside $200,000 for the purchase of the refurbished apparatus for the new Varney station, but with added construction management, architecture and engineering costs on the station, the initial project budget is approximately $100,000 short.

“Today [the board] agreed that in the future we need to transfer another $100,000 from the capital fund to the project fund,” Oglietti said about the Dec. 31 meeting. “We had planned on purchasing another piece of apparatus in 2017 but that may be pushed back a year now.”

Liss said the Varney location was selected after the strategic plan showed the area had roughly 500 houses that were not in the MVRFD’s targeted response zone—15 minutes from a fire station. The MVRFD board also considered the McAllister/Meadow Creek/North Ennis Lake area because there are approximately 200 houses in that location beyond the desired response zone.

“When we pay off this general obligation bond, then we will probably plan another station in that area though we still have to locate property and do other work,” Liss said.

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