Stations in the Boles Fire Protection District are now staffed full time.
Starting Jan. 22, the four stations on the district are now staffed with two full-time firefighters “24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” said Justin Spraul, assistant chief.
Last April, voters in the 70-mile Franklin County district approved Proposition Safety by just 83 votes. The proposition prompted an increase in the tax levy by 35 cents per $100 assessed valuation.
The prior tax rate was 59.11 cents per $100 assessed valuation. The new rate will be 94.11 cents per $100 assessed.
The increase is the first the district has had since 2003. With the additional funds, one of the things Boles officials promised voters was more full-time staffers.
Prior to the passage of Proposition Safety, Boles had 12 full-time staffers for its four fire stations. The staffers primarily operated out of Station No. 1 in Gray Summit and Station No. 2 in Labadie.
The arrangement left the stations in Villa Ridge and St. Albans without full-time firefighters. Spraul said once the department went over the numbers and projections related to the additional funds, Boles decided it could double its staff.
Boles added 12 full-time career firefighters and now has two staffers at each station full time.
Spraul said the hiring process was conducted toward the end of 2016. He said Boles was fortunate to be able to promote from within to fill most of the spots.
Having the stations staffed should help improve response times. Spraul said the goal is to improve the district’s Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating. The ISO rating helps set insurance rates for businesses and homes.
Even with the stations staffed, Spraul said the department will still need its volunteers.