North Summit Fire District
It’s time to take a clear look at the North Summit Fire District’s financial situation and determine a path forward to make sure the public and our firefighters are safe and protected.
Fire District operations, equipment, and facilities do not meet current community needs or national fire service standards. Above is a community presentation that discusses the current inadequacies and solutions for critical upgrades to North Summit Fire District service levels.
North Summit Fire District Proposed Tax Increase FAQ
What is North Summit Fire District proposing?North Summit Fire District is proposing to raise its property tax rate from .00035 to .0014 to provide adequate resources to ensure the public and their firefighters are safe and protected. The Fire District’s current operations, equipment, and facilities do not meet current community needs or national standards. This increase means that property taxes would increase $105 for every $100,000 of a property’s taxable value. The Fire District has not raised its tax rate since 2007.
Why is it needed?The proposed tax increase is needed to make sure firefighters and the people they serve are safe and protected. The National Fire Protection Association has set a standard response time for rural areas of 14 minutes. Response times in North Summit County can be up to 30 minutes, and sometimes more. Currently, the Fire District is limited by resources having only two firefighters on duty, although OSHA federal standards require at least four firefighters be on the scene before entering a structural fire. This is frequently referred to as the ‘2 in-2 out rule’. North Summit Fire District has the lowest ISO rating, a score that reflects how prepared an area is. A low ISO rating can lead to cancelation of homeowners’ insurance policies, or for fire loss to be excluded from policies. The District also faces extreme deficiencies in firefighter safety equipment. For example, firefighters’ protective clothing and Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA’s) are more than 20 years past their expected life. The fire trucks are in severe states of decline and need substantial repairs and/or replacement; one pumper truck failed recently during a fire in Wanship. Fire facilities are also in need of upgrades, repairs, and maintenance. The roof of the station in Henefer, for example, was severely damaged in a windstorm
What will the new firefighter model look like?Historically, the North Summit Fire District has been a volunteer fire department. This model no longer meets the needs of our community as it doesn’t provide a consistent, reliable, certified, and trained firefighting team. The Fire District seeks to have a minimum of 6 paid firefighters on duty (combined full-time and Part-time), so it can meet federal standards for entering a structure fire and meet the minimum NFPA consensus standard for rural areas. Based on research and data, the Fire District is considering stationing 4 firefighters in Coalville and 2 in Wanship. That would allow 6 firefighters able to converge on a structure fire, and firefighters would be well distributed to respond to medical emergencies throughout the area as first responders, which makes up 75% of the calls received. The Coalville location would house a captain, who would act in as a Battalion Chief to help lead all other firefighters. The Fire District would have a combination of full-time and part-time staff that are certified and trained at the AEMT level.
When will classes be held?Classes will be held either virtually or in person from 6-8 PM on Monday evenings for ten sessions, beginning January 23, 2023 and ending April 10, 2023. Classes will not be held the week of February 20. One field trip may be organized earlier in the evening, but you will be given advanced notice. Note: when classes are held in person, there will not be a Zoom option. We will all meet in person, or all meet online via Zoom.
Can firefighters and retired firefighters living in our community help?
We know there are several firefighters and retired firefighters living in North Summit Fire District’s area and we have been asked if they can help us or respond to fires in their communities on the Fire District’s behalf. The answer is, yes, if those firefighters want to apply for a position, go through the intake process, get certified and trained, follow the rules and regulations set forth by the Fire District, and pull shifts. We cannot allow just anyone to pick up equipment and start fighting a fire or go into a burning structure or even be found in a IDLH atmosphere. There is too much liability with allowing this for the District. We do have response MOU’s in place with South Summit Fire District and Park City Fire District that we utilize when we need them. While these relationships help us respond to situations that are larger than we can handle ourselves, they cannot be relied on fully for our needs in North Summit.
Can you use grants to help offset cost?
Yes, grants can be helpful and North Summit Fire District will apply for them whenever possible. However, grants typically cannot be used for operational costs, as they are one-time money and must be utilized for the purpose they are received. Grants can be used to help offset the cost of a specific item or for a specific purpose, such as training programs or equipment purchases. However, these are not guaranteed funds and should not be used to develop budgets, but if received they would help offset costs.
Can you use fees from development to offset costs?State law allows local jurisdictions to charge impact fees to help compensate for additional service needs resulting from development. The Fire District is currently in the middle of an impact fee analysis with Zions Bank. This analysis uses many data points specifically about the District to develop a set fee that can then be implemented on new growth. This ‘impact fee’ will assist with the growth/impact of the District as the area develops. Please note, however, these impact fees can only be used for capital projects; they cannot be used for administration or operational costs.
Our community is hard to access and does not have adequate infrastructure in place. What can be done?Some areas in North Summit Fire District are not accessible year-round, have steep roads, and do not have adequate infrastructure in place, such as fire hydrants. Many of these areas, such as Tollgate or Echo Creek Ranches, were built as seasonal communities of second homes, many of which are now full-time residences (Tollgate). We are working with these communities to become familiar with their situations and identify solutions that will work for them and North Summit Fire District. For example, we are meeting regularly with Tollgate’s HOA to identify solutions for their unique situations and what the residents of that community want for their community. We have also participated with Echo Creek Ranches in their annual Safety Awareness BBQ.
What is the process for this tax increase?We held public meetings on September 12 and 14 to discuss the proposed tax increase, answer questions and obtain input. On September 19, we held a special North Summit Fire District Board meeting to discuss moving forward with a proposed tax increase. On September 28, North Summit Fire District notified the Summit County Council of its intent to move forward with the tax increase. The ACB discussed the input from these meetings and the proposed tax increase on October 5, and again on October 20 during an administrative control board meeting. Notices about the proposed increase will be sent to all homeowners and landowners in the District before November 1. The District will make a tentative 2023 budget presentation to the Summit County Council on November 2. An ACB meeting will be held on November 10. A Truth in Taxation public hearing and 2023 budget public hearing will be held on December 7.
Why don’t we vote on this tax rate increase?The North Summit Fire District’s maximum tax rate (.0014) was approved by voters in 2007, it was already voted on in the affirmative. The proposed tax increase will raise the rate to the limit approved in 2007.