The Sixties & Seventies
Continued SuccessThe City hired the first civilian dispatchers in 1960 to allow the four firefighters to return to full combat duty. At the end of 1961 the Fire Department employed 66 men for fire combat and fire prevention, including 15 combat officers, one Fire Marshal, two Fire Inspectors, one Alarm Superintendent and one mechanic. In addition, one stenographer and four civilians serving as dispatchers made a total of 71 persons employed by the department.
With the growth of the City toward the West, a bond issue was approved for $380,000.00 in 1964 to relocate the No. Two and No. Three Stations. No. Two, the Southside station, was moved from Second and South 30th Street to Fifth and South 28th Street. And, No. Three moved from Pioneer Park at Virginia Lane and Avenue F to 17th Street West and Parkhill Drive, in 1965.
1969 saw an increase in the number of working hours from 40 to 44 per week when the present 24-hour shift was put into effect. This is the year that the City of Billings officially recognized Local 521 of The IAFF as the bargaining unit for Billings Firefighters.
The City passed a bond issue in 1972 for two new stations, a Controlled Burn Building, a Maintenance Building, and an upgrading of the Alarm and Communications systems. They replaced the old, telephone-line based alarm system of 37 pull-boxes with a new, state-of-the art, wireless system of 96 pull-boxes. And, 10 more men were hired as firefighters.
In 1973 new fire apparatus was purchased. This was the first of many pieces of apparatus in that favorite color of firemen everywhere: lime green. 18 more men were hired as firefighters. 1974 saw a move into the new five bay station at 23rd and Eighth Avenue North. It still serves as the Headquarters Fire Station today.
Billings Fire Department received a new 100-foot aerial ladder truck in 1976. By this time there was also an 85-foot aerial ladder truck, five fire stations, 106 firefighters, 10 civilian employees, eight pumpers, one squirt, one 85-foot snorkel, three cars, two vans, three pickups, one communications van, one rescue truck, one chemical truck, and one hose truck.
In 1979 the city established the Communications Center, an act which actually put the police and fire dispatchers, as well as the city telephone operators together in one room. It was housed at the Headquarters Fire Station building.