GRANTSVILLE, Utah — More than half of all fire fighters in Utah are volunteers, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. The Grantsville City Fire Department is fully run by volunteers, while the North Tooele Fire District is run by a mix of volunteer and paid staff.
Those are just two examples of several departments across the Beehive State that depend on volunteers.
This fire season is expected to be busy, with the official start to fire season being pushed up to May 1 in some parts of the state. Wildfire season seems to be year-round, Jon Smith, public information officer for North Tooele Fire District, said.
“Here we are the 30th of April and we’ve already had more than a dozen wildland calls here in Tooele County this year alone. Some of them we were fighting fire while there was snow on ground next to us with weeds burnings. It’s been incredibly dry for the past couple of seasons,” he said.
Gina Palma is a Meteorologist with the Great Basin Coordination Center in Salt Lake City. She helps to determine the fire forecast and predictions.
“Anything with respect to the fuels on the ground or the weather that effects it is what we need to look into to determine what could happen during the fire season,” she said.
“We will be looking at how much moisture we have coming in at any given time, what our winds are going to be like, what our relative humidity, so our dryness, what that will be like and then looking at lightening going forward,” she said.
Volunteer firefighters are expected to be trained and have the same certifications as a career firefighter. They just don’t get paid, Smith joked.
“All if not most of our volunteers are firefighter certified, EMTs, wildland certified with their red cards,” he said.
🚨Fire season starts tomorrow in Utah 🚨we’re talking with Grantsville City and N. Tooele volunteer fire departments about how they are preparing PLUS how meteorologist predict the fire season.. why it’s starting early & what the next few months will determine. @fox13 at 4/5 pic.twitter.com/Y6ipq6Vpy1— Sydney Glenn (@SydneyGlennTV) April 30, 2021