Fire district urging residents to contract

Published 5:00 pm Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Some western Shelby County residents living outside Helena city limits could face a large service bill if they are not contracted with the Indian Ford Volunteer Fire Department.

Although the fire department lies in Jefferson County, it covers about 300 Shelby County residents along South Shades Crest Road, Shelby County 1 and Shelby County 13.

Jefferson County residents served by the fire department are charged mandatory fire dues, but Shelby County residents served by the department must contract with the department to ensure coverage.

When Shelby County residents contract with the department, they must pay yearly fire dues equal to about $1 per $1,000 of a home’s assessed value, said Indian Ford Vice President Owen Edwards.

“That $1 per $1,000 in assessed value is basically what it would boil down to,” Edwards said. “The area is basically between Highway 52, Highway 1 and Highway 13, but is not in the Helena city limits.”

Edwards said of the about 300 Shelby County residents served by the department, less than 20 percent are currently contracted with the department.

However, those Shelby County residents can also request to be annexed into Helena and be served by the city’s Fire Department, said Helena Fire Chief John Wilder.

“They do have a choice. They can also annex into the city,” said Wilder. “We used to not be able to get out there to serve that area, but we are able to now.”

Residents not in the city and who are not contracted with the department can still receive fire protection from Indian Ford, but the price could be high, Edwards said.

“If we got called out to someone’s house who didn’t contract with us, they would be billed for the service,” Edwards said. “And that bill could range somewhere between $2,000 or $3,000.

“That would cost a lot more than it would to just contract with us,” Edwards added.

For more information about the area the district serves, or to contract with the department, call Indian Ford at 426-2171. For more information about annexing into Helena or being served by the Helena Fire Department, call Helena City Hall at 663-2161 or the fire department at 663-5809.