The Eighties & Nineties

Modern Advances
With increased population growth in the Heights, a new fire station was built at 760 Lake Elmo Drive in 1980. This brought the number of fire stations to six.

In 1985, after an Interlocal Agreement was reached between the City of Billings and Yellowstone County, there was established a Joint City/County 9-1-1 Center. This brought the Sheriff dispatchers into the same Comm. Center with the rest of the dispatchers and phone operators. Also in 1985, two Pierce Arrow Quint Fire Engines were purchased. And, they were RED! All apparatus purchased after this time have also been red.

The following year saw the annexation of the Heights, adding 5.3 square miles to the size of Billings. So, in 1987, Fire Station No. Six was relocated approximately two miles further north, to 1601 Saint Andrews.

In 1988, after the demise of the privately owned O’Donnell’s Fire Service left a lot of people and property without fire protection outside of the city limits, the Billings Urban Fire Service Area (BUFSA) was created. This increased to about 70 square miles the area protected by the Billings Fire Department.

Within the fire department, 1991 saw the creation of the Hazardous Materials Response Team. This gave the department a dozen men trained and certified at the Technician level, with the requisite resources and equipment, whereas the rest of the department maintained its level of first-responder Haz-Mat training. In the Comm. Center 1991 also saw the addition of Enhanced 9-1-1 service in the area covered by US West Communications. Basically, this provided Caller ID for the Comm. Center, giving the location from which the call originated, as well as the name under which under the phone was registered.

In 1992 a Technical Rope Rescue Team was created, giving the department a group of individuals certified to a level of training far above the first responder level of the remainder of the department. The following year the fire department became an Emergency Medical Technician Service Provider, as almost the entire department became certified EMTs.

In 1994 Computer Aided Dispatch became a reality. Prior to this, information from 9-1-1 calls was written out in longhand, time stamped, and manually given to the appropriate dispatcher. Locations, times enroute, on scene, etc., of officers and engines was manually tracked and time stamped. CAD enabled all reports to be taken via the computer, based upon jurisdiction and location. The computer decides to whom the call goes, and from there it is dispatched. It also tracks the officers and engines. 1994 also saw the placement of Defibrillators on all six front-line fire engines.

In 1996 the Emergency Medical Dispatch Program was implemented. Basically, this allows dispatchers to give instructions to callers needing emergency medical aid, as they await the arrival of a fire engine and ambulance.

In 1997 a new 104-foot Sutphen Aerial Ladder was added to the fleet to replace the older 100-foot Pierce aerial ladder.

1998 the 800 MHz Radio system was installed and put into use, providing the city police and fire departments with expanded coverage and usage capabilities in a high-tech, computerized environment.

In 1999, using over $110,000 dollars donated by citizens and civic groups of the community, the Billings Fire Department placed Thermal Imaging Units on each front-line engine and the Battalion Chiefs' vehicle.