During the 1950s several major structure fires transformed Boise. The Sonna Building, Tennyson Transfer/Storage, HB Eastman mansion, Mode Department Store, Gem State Wholesale Drug and Sprouse-Rietz Variety Store all burned down.
The department’s expansion continued into the 1960s when a sixth fire station was built on Liberty Street (1964). Concurrently, a three-platoon schedule was established, staffing increased to 107 firefighters and the department’s call volume exceeded 1,000 alarms for the first time. After taking over Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) at Boise Air Terminal in 1965, Boise Fire built a new station at the airport in 1966.
The department was divided into five divisions: Administration, Fire Prevention, Combat, and Training and Alarm/Maintenance. Staffing increased yet again after the department acquired a station on Overland Road (Fire Station 8) from the Whitney Rural Fire District; by the end of the decade the department employed 139 people.
In the 1970s the department continued to grow. Fourteen pieces of equipment or vehicles were purchased between 1972 and 1977 and Fire Station 3 was relocated to Gekeler Lane in December 1978.
The Idaho Legislature passed the One Percent Tax Reduction Initiative in 1978, which reduced the department’s budget by 14 percent and forced layoffs and demotions in 1979. The Idaho State Firefighter Collective Bargaining Act was passed in 1979, and the City of Boise then recognized—and bargained with—the local firefighter union.
Boise’s population reached 102,000 in the early 1980s, and the city suffered over $1 million in fire damages per year for several years. In 1982 alone damages exceeded $2.46 million due to an arson spree. Department positions that had been eliminated in the One Percent Initiative were reinstated as staffing needs grew.
On April 1, 1984 the Fire Alarm Dispatch office was closed and the Ada County Sheriff’s Office assumed the duty of dispatching fire calls. By 1989, Boise Fire responded to more than 7,000 calls annually.
The 1990s saw a flurry of new construction for the department. In March 1991, Fire Station 6 relocated to a new station on Franklin Road, and the Training Division moved into the old firehouse on Liberty Street. The number of stations grew to 13 when Station 10 was built on McMillan Road in 1994. Boise Fire acquired the Cole/Collister Fire District on Emerald Street in 1996, and Fire Station 12 was built in 1998.