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Summit County

Park City Fire will provide fire service in North Summit for at least 2 more weeks

North Summit Fire District trucks

The extension, which may reach into early May, aims to give North Summit’s new fire chief time to rebuild the roster of firefighters.

The 60-day agreement that brought Park City firefighters to North Summit fire stations in Coalville and elsewhere expires this week. On Wednesday, the North Summit Fire District agreed to extend the arrangement for at least another two weeks, with an option for another two weeks after that.

The North Summit Administrative Control Board suggested the extension would give newly hired Chief Ben Nielson more time to assemble a staff of firefighters to resume local operations.

The North Summit Fire District suspended its entire volunteer roster in early February after alleging there was a concerted effort among firefighters not to sign up for shifts.

Officials said at a public meeting that in the first five weeks of 2022, more than half of North Summit firefighting shifts were not filled. The issue came to a head when one firefighter allegedly refused to respond to a medical call in late January.

Since then, the Summit County Council has expanded the control board from five seats to nine. The district hired its first full-time chief and is working to upgrade equipment and plan a new staffing model.

Summit County Councilor Roger Armstrong now chairs the board and runs its meetings. Armstrong said at Wednesday’s meeting there was cause for cautious optimism about staffing the district, but did not elaborate. Councilor Chris Robinson said some former firefighters appear to be interested in rejoining the district.

In early February, North Summit agreed to pay Park City Fire $168,000 to take over firefighting duties for two months while North Summit reorganized. This two-week extension will cost another $43,200 — $41,700 for services and another $1,500 for expenses Park City Fire said it incurred while it was staffing North Summit stations.

Armstrong said he supported the deal and suggested North Summit had little choice in the matter. But he said it was “bad form” for Park City Fire to increase the costs after the first deal was reached.

“I'm going to agree to it, but their board should know that when I go into budget session at the end of this year, we're going to take a hard look at the budget,” Armstrong said. “Because if they need to squeeze another $1,500 expenses out that were not covered in the prior agreement in order to extend this, then we'll take a look at their budget to figure out why they're so strapped that they need to recoup something that wasn't included.”

The county council oversees both Park City and North Summit fire districts and approves their annual budgets. Armstrong later clarified that the Park City Fire District was not going to face consequences for the charges, and that his comments were made out of irritation.