February was a big month for the Meridian Fire Department as we welcomed new leadership and continued to support our firefighters with a new labor agreement.
First, we appointed a new Fire Chief, Kris Blume, whose experience, passion, and vision are the perfect fit for the position. Kris comes to us from Arizona, where he served with the Tucson Fire Department for twenty-years. Chief Blume was born and raised in Idaho and is thrilled to be back where he can re-plant roots with his wife and young son. City Council welcomed the Blume family with open arms after a unanimous appointment on February 23rd. Since then Chief Blume has hit the ground running and is now “drinking from the fire hose” as he gets to know the department and premier people within it. I look forward to the community getting to know him and Chief Blume sharing more about the future of the department in a future town hall meeting.
Another great win for us was the ability to come to a fair and balanced labor agreement with the Meridian Fire Union. We have been able to develop a strong foundation with the Union, built on trust and mutual respect. That foundation allows us to work well together and find common ground on everything from salaries and medical benefits to the organizational structure and basic operations. Though the process was a bit delayed due to the pandemic, I’m pleased to say a fair and consistent contract was approved by City Council that allows the City to forecast and plan for changes in the coming years, provides predictability and assists us in retaining the top talent in public safety for Meridian residents. Thank you to all those who put in so much time to make this happen on both sides of the table.
With both of these issues behind us, we look forward to the next steps for Meridian Fire Department. In order to maintain the level of service our current and future residents expect, we have identified the need of two new fire stations – one in northwest Meridian and one in southeast Meridian – and firefighters to staff them. In April, Chief Blume will be presenting information to City Council on how and when best to provide the needed services. While we have to take into account several factors such as service demands, staffing, budgets, State legislation and more, it is important that we have the conversation to understand the impact of those planned needs and how we can best implement them. I look forward to this important discussion that will set the stage for the Fire Department for the next several years.
Overall, I am proud of these accomplishments we’ve made as a City that will allow us to continue to provide you, our residents, with the premier services you expect and deserve. And I am also proud of the accomplishments made by our Fire Department in 2020 and encourage you to review their annual report.
Once again, welcome Chief Blume. I know we both see the challenges before us and the opportunities on the horizon, and know that our team has the people and tools in place to meet our goals in the coming year.