Uintah City Council Votes To Drop Volunteer Fire Department
UINTAH, Utah – The Uintah Fire Department is on its way out after city officials voted unanimously to request annexation into the Weber Fire District Tuesday, likely bringing an end to 49 years of service for the volunteer fire crew.
“We want to do what’s best for the citizens of Uintah,” said Uintah Mayor Gordon Cutler.
The small town has a population of just over 1,3000 people. Of the 12 current volunteer firefighters, just one lives within the boundaries of the city.
“Can we sustain a fulltime fire department with that population?” Cutler asked.
On Tuesday, he sided with the city council in voting to pass a resolution to request annexation into the Weber Fire District. It was a disappointing end for the volunteer crew.
“Tensions have been a little bit high on both sides. But we’re both trying to press forward and do what’s right,” said Marc Sacco, current Fire Marshal and the former fire chief of the Uintah Fire Department.
Sacco moved away from the area recently, reigniting a debate over whether keeping the local fire department was in the best interest of the citizens of Uintah.
“Either way the community will be served well by the departments. I just hope that Uintah city keeps their own,” Sacco said just before the city council voted.
“Our time spent on calls is completely volunteer and we love that,” said Casey Christiansen, battalion chief. “We think we can do it for a lower cost to the citizens than what Weber fire is going to charge the citizens.”
“There are a lot of folks that are very emotional about it,” said Don Pearson, a former councilmember and volunteer at the fire station.”
“But on the other hand, we’re not finding a lot of folks that are stepping up and saying, ‘OK, I’ll volunteer,’” he said.
Cutler and councilmembers said Tuesday that the current situation with COVID-19 had made it difficult for them to gather more input from their town of just 1,300. Limited numbers were allowed into the meeting Tuesday. Just two people spoke during the public comment period. Both were in support of the fire department.
“I just hope that the voice of the community has been heard by the council,” Sacco said. “And they vote on behalf of their constituents who voted them into their office.”
City leaders praised and thanked current and former volunteer firefighters for their service over nearly 50 years. By the end of the night, they had voted unanimously against keeping the local volunteer department. This is just the first step in the process for them to be annexed into the Weber Fire District.
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