Tim Leeds Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
The Havre City-County Airport will have its own fire engine, probably by next spring, city officials said Wednesday. The Havre City Council this week approved accepting a $194,750 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration, which will pay 95 percent of the cost of buying a fire engine and paying an engineer who worked on the project, said Lowell Swenson, Havre finance director and city clerk. The fire engine will satisfy the last of requirements the FAA had put in place that the Havre airport had to meet in order to continue to receive commercial flights through Big Sky Airlines. “If we want to keep our airline coming into Havre City- County Airport we have to follow their regulations,” Hill County Commissioner Kathy Bessette said in an interview earlier this week. The Hill County Commission had already approved the grant. Although a separate board oversees the airport, the city and county must both act as sponsors, Swenson said. Big Sky Airlines has morning and evening flights to and from Havre Monday through Friday, and a morning flight each Saturday and Sunday. Havre Mayor Bob Rice said Wednesday that the fire engine will have to stay at the airport. The question arose in the council meeting Monday whether the fire engine could be used in other operations, he said. The federal regulations require that the fire engine be able to respond in three minutes, Rice said. “We have the three-minute rule. We have to be there,” he said. He added that since most of the cost of the fire engine is being paid by the federal government, leaving it at the airport won’t set the city or county back. “It’s actually a plus, but it’s the idea that it just sits there,” Rice said. He added that if there were no flights coming in and no one would be endangered, he would use the fire engine to respond to some events, such as if a brush fire broke out near the airport. A bid made by a Texas company has already been accepted for the construction of the fire engine, said Dave Peterson, Havre director of public works. Personnel will also have to be trained to use the equipment, Peterson said, which will include the manager of the airport and local firefighters. The FAA training requirements differ some from standard firefighting training, he added. The Havre City-County Airport joined the airport in Sidney to bid on two fire engines, which reduced the cost per engine. Bessette said the new regulations are to increase the safety of the public.