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North Summit firefighters facing suspension, accused of refusing shifts and service calls

Posted at 8:57 PM, Feb 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-06 23:53:39-05

SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah — Firefighters in a small Utah volunteer fire department are being accused of boycotting shifts, and in one case, refusing to respond to a call for service.

The administrative control board of the North Summit Fire District said it plans to suspend all of its firefighters indefinitely after hearing these allegations.

At an emergency meeting on Friday, the board said several firefighters have recently refused to work shifts and disobeyed direct orders.

This included one firefighter who allegedly refused to respond to an accidental shooting in Echo Canyon that claimed the life of a 58-year-old woman.

Board members pointed out that not all firefighters in the volunteer crew were participating in this so-called insubordination, but an estimated eight of 25.

The Park City Fire District has been responding to emergency calls since these issues came to light, board members said. Then in Friday's meeting, Park City Fire District Deputy Chief Pete Emery said he's willing to have his department take over North Summit duties for 30-60 days under "automatic aid," where emergency calls to dispatch would go directly to PCFD.

Emery said they may continue to send fire engines from Park City, or they may decide to send personnel to temporarily staff the fire stations in NSFD's jurisdiction. This includes the small towns of Henefer, Coalville and Wanship, as well as other mostly remote areas of Summit County.

Emery and others in the meeting called this a "Band-Aid," not a permanent solution to the problem.

The board plans to discuss the situation further at a special meeting scheduled for Monday at 6:30 p.m.

A video of Friday's full meeting can be watched below:

In November, former NSFD Chief Ian Nelson was let go for undisclosed reasons. It still remains unclear what led to his termination or whether the recent alleged insubordination were connected to that.

A former firefighter with the North Summit Fire District spoke with FOX 13 News on Sunday, giving her perspective on the issue.

"The community is told that the firefighters are refusing to help them; this is not true," said Monica LeCates. "The firefighters are there. They are part of the community. They live in this community.”

LeCates was a firefighter with North Summit from 2017 to 2020.

"I have, with my own eyes, seen they had sacrificed everything to go on those calls, no matter the daytime, the effort, put their lives at stake. And all of a sudden, all this is wrong," she added.