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Changing of the guard: Park City firefighters now in charge in North Summit

The North Summit Fire District Coalville station
Alexander Cramer
At 8 a.m. Tuesday, Park City firefighters started staffing the North Summit Fire District fire station in Coalville. North Summit suspended all of its firefighters this weekend after a firefighter did not respond to a call for service last week.

Starting Tuesday morning, it’s Park City firefighters, not North Summit firefighters, who are staffing the fire station in Coalville. This comes after North Summit firefighters allegedly refused to respond to calls.

The changeover happened at 8 a.m. Tuesday morning, though the locks were changed the day before. Park City firefighters are now staffing the North Summit fire station in Coalville.

On Monday night, the leadership from the two districts made it official: North Summit would pay Park City $168,000 to provide fire protection services for 60 days.

Park City Fire District Chief Bob Zanetti said he’s staffing the shifts with off-duty firefighters and has “zero interest in taking fire duties permanently.”

County Manager Tom Fisher told KPCW that nothing will change in how emergency medical services are provided. And when there’s an emergency, 911 will still work the same way.

“The only difference right now is that we have an interlocal agreement with Park City Fire to have that immediate response there at the Coalville station ready to roll,” Fisher said.

The change comes a week after a North Summit firefighter did not respond to a call for service. Multiple other agencies responded to that call, which involved the death of a woman whom authorities say was accidentally shot.

Michelle Andersen, the chair of the North Summit Administrative Control Board, said the firefighter on duty did not follow a deputy chief’s orders to respond.

Once that happened, the board notified the Summit County Attorney’s Office. The Park City Fire District started responding to all North Summit calls that day, Fisher said.

Andersen said Park City firefighters would use the same staffing model as North Summit did, two people working 12- or 24-hour shifts. Fire trucks and ambulances will continue to respond from North Summit to emergencies in the district.

In the past, North Summit firefighters would respond from their homes rather than from the fire station that’s just down the hill from North Summit High School, where Park City personnel are now installed.

At the board meeting when the suspension was announced, officials from Summit County and the North Summit and Park City fire districts made clear this would be a temporary solution. But it is costly — the two-month contract equals roughly one-third of North Summit’s annual operating budget.

Andersen said the board’s immediate concern is to ensure the community is protected. She said a property tax increase might be necessary to pay for the unexpected cost.

Before the incident, the board approved bylaws and was looking at increasing its revenues by adopting impact fees charged on new development. Now, that’s all paused as the board is faced with the task of rebuilding the district.

Fisher said this experience might bring about significant change in how the district is structured.

“It may also just be an inflection point within the community, where the County Council, the Administrative Control Board and the community members and the elected officials in Coalville and Henefer need to get together and see what the future of the service is, whether it can be all-volunteer in the future, or if it needs to be something different,” he said.

The Summit County Council has scheduled a joint meeting with the North Summit Administrative Control Board Wednesday night.