Morgan County considers fire prevention instead of insurance policy

  • Source: Morgannews
  • Published: 07/28/2016 09:20 PM

Instead of paying into an insurance policy meant to pay for suppression of wildland fires, Morgan County is considering participating in mitigation projects instead. Trent Bristol, Wasatch Front area manager for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, presented legislative changes to the Morgan County Council July 5. The legislative changes were spurred by the particularly bad fire season of 2012, Bristol said. The governor asked the state to find a way to prevent catastrophic fires from happening. The request lead to Senate Bill 56 in 2015 (a comprehensive plan to reduce wild fires), and Senate Bills 122 and 212 in 2016. Bristol said the two-year process allowed for collaboration with the Utah Fire Chiefs Association as well as both the Association of Counties and Utah League of Cities and Towns. The result is a draft voiding current cooperative agreements between the state and county calling for an insurance fund in exchange for a new cooperative agreement where the state will pay for fire suppression costs while counties work to mitigate their own wildfire risks. “It won’t change the way we fight the fire at all, just the way we pay for it,” Bristol told the council. Under the new agreement, the state will assume the costs of all large and extended-attack fires. Local fire departments will still be on the hook for initial attack of the fire, but when the local department feels it is beyond their capability, the state will step in both physically and financially. Local fire departments will still have “a seat at the command table,” Bristol said.


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