Record editorial: Wildland Fire Unit volunteers could be critical resource in Summit County
There are numerous organizations in Park City and wider Summit County that rely, at some level, on volunteers.
Many of the people you see working venues during the Sundance Film Festival are volunteers while the same can be said for athletic or cultural events in the area.
The County Courthouse has created another opportunity for volunteers, and it is one that could help save properties, lives and livelihoods. Leaders recently founded the Summit County Wildland Fire Unit, funded by the county and run by volunteers.
Summit County residents, whether they live in Park City, in the Snyderville Basin or on the East Side, should be pleased with the move. The Wildland Fire Unit is something that could eventually be a critical resource for the people of Summit County as a line of defense in the event of a blaze.
The Park City Fire District and the firefighting districts on the East Side have proven themselves time and again to be exemplary agencies. The Wildland Fire Unit, then, should not be considered to be something that is needed to bolster an underperforming agency. Instead, it should be seen as a group of dedicated, everyday citizens wanting to help protect their communities, a collection of cities and unincorporated areas that live with the threat of a terrible wildfire through the summer and into the fall.
Summit County is showing immediate confidence in the Wildland Fire Unit, deeming it worthy to be afforded firefighting resources like a fire truck designed to extinguish brush blazes and water-carrying tenders. It also has the authority to order heavy equipment to a fire scene to create breaks in the path of a blaze.
Even though the Wildland Fire Unit is not expected to be the first to arrive at a scene, the work it conducts will be designed to take some of the pressure off the professional firefighters after the initial attack. That will allow the agencies to redeploy the professional firefighters to another scene if need be, while the Wildland Fire Unit remains at the initial location to finish the work.
It is impossible at the outset to understand the ultimate importance of the role of the Wildland Fire Unit. The importance may never actually be understood until it is the members of the Wildland Fire Unit who are protecting your neighborhood.
The deadline is more than a month away, but the early reminder is worthwhile at a time when there has been such turnover of population in Park City and Summit County.
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