Suspended North Summit Fire District volunteers claim threats of legal action

Feb 10, 2022, 5:10 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 4:16 pm

COALVILLE, Utah — Volunteer firefighters from the North Summit Fire District pushed back against accusations of a boycott and their ongoing suspension in a statement sent to KSL TV Thursday.

In the statement that did not include any names, ‘North Summit Volunteer Responders’ said reports that families, homes and properties have been put at risk by a boycott are “absolutely not true.”

“There is not now, nor ever has there been any boycott,” the statement read, adding that they have been threatened with legal action if they speak out.

KSL reported earlier this week that members of the administrative control board that oversees NSFD and Summit County officials had accused firefighters of “insubordination” and “dereliction of duty.”

Summit County Manager Tom Fisher told KSL TV on Sunday, shortly after reports surfaced that an NSFD firefighter had chosen not to respond to a call for a woman who had been accidentally shot, that there was an effort “organized by some of the firefighters to simply not take shifts.”

“And they’re doing that because they have some level of grievance.”
To the Citizens of Summit County and Any Interested Parties (1) by Cary on Scribd

In their statement to Summit County citizens and “interested parties”, volunteer responders said, “some members of the Board have refused to provide the volunteer North Summit Firefighters with the leadership and support they need to do our work safely and effectively.”

The statement lists three significant issues in particular that it says are decisions by the board that put “the health and safety of residents at risk”:

  1. the board has refused to provide a licensed physician to provide medical control, which is required under state law for first responder service;
  2. the only North Summit Fire ambulance was inexplicably taken out of service without backup, leaving no ambulance available for calls for a significant amount of time;
  3. the board forced out the chief, and the acting chief quit, leaving the North Summit Volunteer Responders without any professional leadership;

KSL previously reported that the county fired the previous chief in November 2021 and the acting chief stepped down after the incident last week involving the firefighter who did not respond to support EMS on a call in Echo Canyon.

Ahead of a meeting on Monday with the control board over NSFD, Coalville Mayor Mark Marsh, a former volunteer firefighter at NSFD for 17 years, acknowledged firefighters have issues they feel are not being addressed.

He said, “I hope they can make maybe a little better stand on why they feel like they’re not being heard than putting people’s lives in jeopardy.”

The Park City Fire District is currently covering calls for North Summit. Marsh said he would like to see the response of those calls back in the hands of his own residents.

Henefer Mayor Kay Richins agreed that the way firefighters have responded recently is not the way to handle their concerns.

Richins also took issue with EMS moving out of North Summit to the Park City Fire District. He told KSL he believes that move may have impacted response times for calls in North Summit and he would like to see those services return to his area.

In the statement, volunteer responders said the board’s decision has damaged trust and that the responders “will no longer be bullied and maligned by the very people who were supposed to provide us with the tools and support we need to protect the health and safety of our community.”

Responders expressed support for the Park City Fire District firefighters who have taken over their calls and they encouraged residents to respect their work.

On Thursday night, the board discussed short-term plans to address the issues, including the matter of hiring a new chief, starting a new volunteer list and figuring out how to ensure shifts are filled.

Board members acknowledged they would have to meet several more times before the 60-day agreement with Park City Fire ends.

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Suspended North Summit Fire District volunteers claim threats of legal action