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Two opportunities to weigh in on the future of North Summit Fire District

COALVILLE, Utah — North Summit Fire District (NSFD) is holding an open house to discuss the future of the district. The open houses will take place Monday and Wednesday from 6:30 – 8 p.m. at the Summit County Ledges Event Center. There is an option to view the presentation from Zoom for the Wednesday open house.

Recently, NSFD wrote in a Facebook post that its operations, equipment, and facilities do not meet the current community needs or national fire service standards. These issues are compounding with the growing population within the district and the frequency of situations requiring responses from the NSFD. TownLift spoke with NSFD Chief Ben Nielson to get more details on the district’s challenges. 

“We’ve had a lot of structure fires, probably four this summer alone starting in March. We also had two structure fires about a week ago, so it’s been a busy season. On top of that, we’ve had diesel fires and chemical spills on I-80. We’ve had all kinds of problems this year.” said Chief Neilson.

A recent chemical spill off on I-80 in Rockport in August this year is just one of the many incidences that North Summit Fire District has responded to. Photo: Park City Fire Department // Facebook

According to Chief Neilson, some of the issues stem from the district originally being entirely volunteer and now transitioning to some combination of part and full-time firefighters, all while needing the leadership in place to handle every emergency that happens during a high fire risk situation like a drought. The reality is that the pressure on the fire district to respond to emergencies is only increasing, yet they do not have the equipment and funding to handle them.

“Things are getting busier. The whole point tonight is that the district has been underfunded and mismanaged for almost 15 to 20 years. It’s time to reconsider everything, especially with the coming new growth,” said Chief Neilson.

Chief Neilson’s hopes the town hall meetings will both inform the public of the reality of the fire district’s problems and as well as help the community come together to find solutions.

“We want input and data if they have it, and we are an open book. We want to be more transparent with what we’re doing, the kind of district we’re running, and what we’re seeing. We want to get people’s opinions,” said Chief Neilson.

Chief Neilson reiterated that these town hall meetings come from the district’s goal to do the best job they can for the community while keeping their employees safe; whether it’s the rising number of wildfires to the multiple structure fires this summer, it’s essential to be able to handle a wide variety of emergencies safely.

 “We are your brothers, sisters, dads, and moms. We are the community. We want to be safe, but we also want to keep the community safe. Nobody wants their loved one to pass away during a structure fire or get injured in an emergency. We want to keep the firemen safe, and we want to do a better job for the public,” said Chief Neilson.

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