Sweetwater County Commissioners vote on Sweetwater County Fire Department options

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Tanya Baer, [email protected]

Sweetwater County- At the beginning of the discussion on the Sweetwater County Fire Department, Commissioner Mary Thoman stated, “The first point I want to make is that the discussion is around County fire, and in no way is County fire going to be eliminated, reduced, if anything it will be enhanced. So depending on the decisions made today, I just want to make that point very clear. County fire will continue. It’s just how we decide to do that.”

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Extensive research has been done to figure out what the best option is for handling the Sweetwater County Fire Department. Originally, there were 3 options to choose from but the fire warden had asked for a fourth option. The committee then met for 3.5 hours and determined that there would not be an option 4.

The three original options included:

Option 1: The County would build a fire department that provided services outside of the incorporated areas and districts.

Option 2: The County would deal with fires outside of the incorporated areas and districts and create contracts with other agencies for fire protection services.

Option 3: The County would create contracts with the existing fire agencies to cover fire protection outside the incorporated areas and districts.

Option 4, which was decided against, was keeping existing fire agencies, and putting in county crews in Wamsutter and Granger. This would have costed roughly $705,000 dollars.

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Option 3, to create contracts with existing fire agencies for fire protections outside the incorporated areas would cost roughly $450,000 dollars. The County would not have to purchase equipment or hire any new staff. Commissioner Mary Thoman said, “It would be a step towards co-operation instead of competition.”

Commissioner Randy Wendling was against option 3 saying, “I think this is not the right way to go.” Commisioner Lauren Schoenfeld stated, “I do want to say that this is not the end result, this is the first step in the right direction, this is a good step in beginning to look at what County-wide services can look like and how we can work together. It is going to take a few years to work through that.” It is yet to be determined what will happen with existing employees and their contracts.

After the roll call vote, option 3 was passed 4 to 1.

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