Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The recently passed levy for the Missoula City Fire Department will finally allow for the purchase of sorely needed new fire engines and other equipment necessary to carry out their mission, as well as help to attract new firefighters with more competitive pay and benefits.

On the Missoula ECON 101 segment of Talk Back, CEO of the Missoula Economic Partnership Grant Kier’s special guest was Missoula Fire Chief Gordy Hughes, who explained the importance of the levy.

Econ 101 Featured Missoula Fire Chief Gordy Hughes

“One aspect is the equipment that we provide, that we have on our streets, the rolling stock, which is quite expensive,” began Chief Hughes. “That was part of this levy, to provide the equipment replacement schedule that is important to have stock on the roads that will be competent to do the job for our firefighters behind the wheels and operating them. They come at a very steep cost, as I mentioned in previous episodes, the price of a Type One pumper has increased by 50 percent. It's no longer a $500,000 piece of equipment; it's a million-dollar piece of equipment now.”

Chief Hughes also answered a listener's question about the levy helping to improve Missoula’s ISO (Insurance Services Office) rating.

Hughes Explained the ISO Rating and How it Affects Home Insurance

“The ISO rating evaluates three concepts; your fire protection by the fire department, the water supply that we have in the community, and the 9-1-1 system taking in the emergency calls,” he said. “On the fire side, what they look at primarily are the personnel providing the service. In terms of numbers, how many firefighters that we deploy as an effective firefighting force to show up on a structure fire.”

Chief Hughes was also asked about how the levy will help to attract new firefighters to Missoula.

“That is a conundrum,” he said. “The last two firefighters that we hired, one was currently residing within Missoula, and the other had to relocate from the Billings area but has family here in the western part of the state, so they will eventually find housing, but it is a difficult situation for firefighters.”

READ MORE: Mayor Davis and Chief Hughes Thank Missoula for Passing the Levy

Hughes Said the Levy Will Help Attract the Best Firefighters to Missoula

Hughes said the levy will indeed help to attract the best firefighters to relocate to Missoula.

“One of the components of the levy was to provide the monies to bring our firefighters up to comparisons across the Northwest and the state of Montana, to provide that living wage,” he said. “Part of the comparison was looking at the cost of living adjustment because of the relatively high cost of housing here, so we're hopeful that this bump will provide that boost in their paycheck so they can provide for their families and housing.”

A home at the median assessed value in Missoula will be paying approximately $189.66 per year, or $15.80 per month for the levy.

More From Montana Talks