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Park City firefighters will staff North Summit area temporarily after issues

Posted at 9:47 PM, Feb 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-08 00:03:28-05

SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah — The governing boards of both the North Summit Fire District and Park City Fire District came to an inter-local agreement on Monday night where Park City will provide coverage in the North Summit area for the next 60 days.

Beginning Tuesday at 8 a.m., Park City firefighters will staff the North Summit station in Coalville. In a North Summit meeting on Monday night, it was emphasized that Park City has no desire to provide any longer-term coverage of the area than the 60 days noted.

“What’s really important is that fire service has to be provided,” said Summit County Manager Tom Fisher on Monday afternoon. “The North Summit Fire District has always been a very dedicated service, and really when I think of firefighters, all the different firefighters I’ve worked with in my career, these folks have the ethic as well. I think the ethic is being challenged for other reasons.”

The agreement comes a few days after the North Summit board agreed to suspend the entire Fire District personnel, roughly 25 people, after allegations were made about firefighters being insubordinate, not responding to calls and not picking up shifts.

“I’ve talked to several firefighters over the last week, first because of that catalyst incident and then because of further information we had about some reactions that were happening from the firefighter force from a small component of the firefighting force,” said Fisher, who referenced a call on Jan. 31, when an accidental shooting call may have been the tipping point for action from the board.

READ: Sandy woman dies from gunshot wound after hunting accident in Summit County

According to Summit County 9-1-1 dispatch records, an ambulance called out-of-service around 10 a.m. Monday from the North Summit area because they were being asked to go to Park City. The ambulance/EMS service in both North and South Summit areas fall under the umbrella of Park City Fire District and Summit County. Records indicate another ambulance from a nearby agency was moved to a more "central" location about 12 minutes after the callout.

When the call for an accidental shooting was dispatched around 11 a.m., the responding ambulance took the call, however, it appears no North Summit Fire District members responded.

“Even though there was an ambulance off duty, the rest of the ambulance service responded," Fisher said. "Who didn’t respond was the firefighter or the officer in charge on duty, and they made a choice not to respond to that call even though it's normally their procedure, practice to respond in support of an emergency medical service call."

Community members from Coalville and other neighboring towns came out to show support for local firefighters before the board meeting on Monday night.

“They took the people that are serving our community directly. Even if it’s only 30 days or 60 days, that’s the critical hole that we need filled,” said Jann Levitre, who lives in nearby Tollgate Canyon. “It can’t be filled by somebody in Park City that lives 30 minutes away from us.”

“What they did to protect my belongings was absolutely amazing," said Cody Sargent, who praised local firefighters for responding to a house fire at his home a few years ago. "Maybe you’d get that service with a bigger agency. I doubt it."

Residents feel that the firefighters are being put in a bad position by the board members, who were outspoken about the allegations during a meeting on Friday night. FOX 13 News reached out to numerous firefighters and their families for comment but were told they would not speak out of "fear of retaliation."

“I think having them in town, there’s more of a connection because they’re local, they know us. Like, he was there within five minutes,” said Rhyley Brunley, who received help from a volunteer firefighter after being in a motorcycle accident. “I almost don’t want to know what could have happened if we had to wait 30 minutes for Park City to be there.”

Another meeting will be held on Wednesday to discuss the future of fire service in the North Summit jurisdiction.