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Fire Protection Services

January 20, 2022
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WRITTEN BY Dr. Jill Barnas

Executive Summary 

Fire protection services, which are provided to the public via fire associations, fire protection districts, and fire departments, are governed differently according to state statutes (RSMo Chapter 320 and 321). Fire jurisdictions may have stations close in proximity, overlap in response areas, and the closest stations to an incident may not be within that jurisdiction, causing issues in response times. Improving the effectiveness and efficiency of fire protection services is the leading reason to modify fire protection service boundaries and jurisdictions. Local fire service boundaries can be modified through annexation, expansion, consolidation, and shared service agreements.   

Highlights 

  • According to 2017 U.S. census data, 21.3% of the 1,881 single function special government districts in Missouri were related to fire protection.
  • Changes to service boundaries are intended to provide greater fire protection services to the public, particularly those in rural areas. 
  • Several bills have been filed this legislative session to permit a public safety tax in order to increase funds for services including fire safety services. 

Limitations 

  • There is no publicly available information pertaining to how many Missouri fire departments, fire districts, and fire associations have modified service boundaries.
  • There is limited peer review research on the implications of modifying service boundaries.
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