Tollgate asks for North Summit Fire annexation
November 26, 2013
The Tollgate Canyon community, which currently has no fire station, has petitioned for annexation into the North Summit Fire Service District. Such a partnership could lead to a fire station being built in Tollgate.
On Oct. 28, the Summit County Clerk’s office received a citizen petition asking for the annexation. According to a North Summit Fire District release, Clerk Kent Jones certified 52 of the 66 signatures. Only 20 by registered voters are needed for the petition to be recognized.
A public hearing regarding the annexation of Tollgate Canyon into NSFD is set for January and North Summit Fire Chief Ken Smith said this move has been years in the making.
"Tollgate hasn’t had an official [fire] response, ever. We respond out of Wanship and ambulances come from as far as Henefer," Smith said. "For some years, we’ve been working on getting a more organized response. We have several hundred full-time residents."
Smith said that during the summer, Tollgate’s population can be as high as 5,000 people, as church camps help to fill up the area. He added that NSFD would plan on building a fire station in the community, as there are several people who would be willing to be volunteer firefighters.
Alan Powell, a Tollgate resident, said members of the community completed a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program several years ago and some have received Red Cards, certifying them to fight fires. Some have also taken emergency medical responder courses, he said.
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"We’re off the grid a little bit, out of coverage basically," Powell said, emphasizing the annexation would be more of a partnership. "We’re trying to fix our own problem and not just rely on others to [solve] it. We don’t want to be a burden on NSFD."
Powell would like to station a four-wheel drive fire truck in Tollgate as well as a universal-terrain vehicle to respond to medical incidents. Tollgate reports roughly 130 medical incidents a year, he said.
Smith said there have been some questions regarding the costs of constructing a fire station, but he said they would be "minimal." Fire insurance rates, he added, would go down as a result and only taxes for those in Tollgate would go up. Tollgate is currently part of the Summit County Wildland Fire District.
"Wildfires are one of those things [for which] time can be really of the essence," Smith said. "What starts out as a burning tree can become a raging wildfire."
NSFD, which is a volunteer-based district, is trying to become a certified EMS agency with the state, which would allow fire district personnel to respond immediately to medical emergencies, Smith said.
Powell said Tollgate only has one exit from its community, which proves risky in the event of a fire. A station in the area would help residents feel more at ease.
"If there was a fire on Tollgate Canyon Road, every person up there would stay there," Powell said, adding that he has never had the expectation that his house would survive in the event of a fire.
"We don’t have the coverage. We need to make [this] happen," Powell said. "Once the political will was there, it was a no-brainer."
A public hearing for the annexation is scheduled for Jan. 8 at 6 p.m. in the council chambers of the Summit County Courthouse, 60 N. Main Street in Coalville.
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