The photo above shows one of the problems with the century-old Hamilton Fire Department building at the corner of South 3rd and State Streets. The modern ladder truck, when it's folded up, is too tall for the garage facilities in the building. And the newer fire trucks are also getting too big for the building.

The Hamilton Volunteer Fire Department has been using the building since it was built. Horses were used to get the equipment to the fires. A lot has changed since then. The building also served as Hamilton City Hall and City Jail as the years went by. Now, City Hall is on the 200 block of South 2nd Street and the city Justice Center is on West Main, across the street from Bitterroot College UM. But the fire trucks have remained.

The city has property on the corner of Skeels and Foxfield, east of Highway 93, where they'd like to build a new fire hall. Fire Chief Brad Mohn and Mayor Dominic Farrenkopf will explain the proposal to the public Wednesday, July 21, at the fire department building, where there will be tours of the current facilities and displays of what the new fire hall would look like. The meeting starts at 7 p.m.

Another reason Chief Mohn likes the new location - it is out of the central business district, which is a high traffic area. When the trucks respond to a call, they have the added downtown traffic to dodge. The new location would have less problems. And, as Mayor Farrenkopf said, the plans call for Skeels Avenue to extend from Marcus past the new fire hall, all the way to Fairgrounds Road. The would allow an efficient route to that area of town.

Mohn said the new fire hall would be compliance with federal health regulations and it would allow expansion for the future. For instance, as Hamilton grows, Montana law will require the fire protection to be a paid department, not volunteer. That would require sleeping quarters and other facilities. More information will be made available at the Hamilton city website, too. The meeting Wednesday is at 7 p.m.

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