BILLINGS, Mont. - The Billings Fire Department is working on creating a priority dispatch system, essentially meaning they won't be sending the big, red fire trucks out to every call.

Billings Fire Chief Pepper Valdez said from 2012 to 2020, there was a 70.6% increase in their call volume. In 2020, the fire department responded to over 18,000 calls. Chief Valdez estimates they will respond to over 19,000 calls in 2021. He also said medical calls make up about 60 to 70% of their call volume. A priority dispatch system would help stretch resources. 

Chief Valdez said they respond to five different types of calls. The first two types require an EMT, but not a paramedic or advanced life support. These are they types of calls where they will try to not send out the big fire trucks.

Chief Valdez said they are also looking into a contract with an ambulance service. He is hoping to conserve resources by 10%.

If the Public Safety Mill Levy passes in November, Chief Valdez said they will create Mobile Response Teams. These will be two person teams that will be able to provide advanced life support, further conserving resources. 

He said they are going to visit with the Spokane Fire Department toward the end of September because Spokane already has a Mobile Response Team program. They are also continuing to have meetings here.

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