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Volunteer firefighters prepare for predicted busy wildfire season

Posted at 5:07 PM, Apr 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-30 19:07:44-04

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.

READ: Fire season to begin early in parts of Utah

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.

WATCH: Rain welcomed, but Utah wildfire, drought concerns remain

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.

READ: Hold off watering lawn after Utah declares drought emergency

“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.