Southern Utah News Articles
KC Commissioners discuss Wildland Fire preparedness and protection
By Mary Ellen Craven
Commissioner Doug Heaton called the February 24 Kane County Commission meeting to order to a packed audience.
First item discussed was what the Resource Committee has proposed as part of being prepared in case of a wildland fire especially in the Cedar Mountain area. Deputy Sheriff Tracy Glover talked about the problems with the high density in that area and what is being done as an effort to get the property owners involved with methods of prevention. The county is providing information to the property owners by sending letters and working through the areas Home Owners Associations. If an owner is not in compliance, they can be cited as a civil violation of the County and State Nuisance Ordinance.
Marty Ott, Chairman of the Resource Committee, talked about the importance of training the KC road crew to become qualified as fire fighters. Kane County Fire Warden Earl Levanger said the county has entered into a cooperative agreement with Utah’s Division of Forestry, Fire and State lands to manage the private and incorporated lands for wildland fires. Levanger said they need to have someone local trained as a Qualified Heavy Equipment Boss (Dozer Boss) in a supervisory position, to be available on site in case of a fire.
The position requires 268 hours of classroom training and passing a physical fitness test. The extensive training could take over five to six years to complete. Bert Harris, K C Road Maintenance Director, said the current road crew, with the exception of the two newly hired personnel, have already passed the basic fire fighting procedures.
It was suggested Harris become the “Dozer Boss” and complete the required training. Since Kane County doesn’t have, or hasn’t had a lot of Wildland fire situations, Harris may have to go to fires outside the county as part of his training program. In the meantime, an outside contractor/operator could be hired to fill the “Dozer Boss” needs.
Commissioner Jim Matson suggested more research be done on the fire fighting training, job description, insurance etc. before making a final decision. Commissioner Dirk Clayson suggested sending letters to neighboring agencies encouraging them to have a Heavy Equipment Boss certified position.
Mike Melton, Area Fire Management Officer with Utah’s Department of Natural Resources, said the state is ready to work on a revised Wildlands Fire Cooperative Agreement with the county and is prepared to begin in roughly two weeks.
Tyce Palmer informed the commissioners that Kane County is sponsoring the 2014 Utah Conservation Field Day in Kanab on June 25, with the potential of approximately 130 to 140 people attending.
The commission approved the agreement between Kane County and UDOT installing a streetlight at the Kaneplex 89A entrance. The county will pay for the on going usage of the light.
Vicky Hooper of the Kane County Volunteer Center informed the commission there is a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and a policy and procedure handbook to be given to the volunteers. Recent changes to Right to Access law require the volunteer submit to a criminal background check and obtain a badge with a picture to be worn while volunteering. The Kane County Sheriff’s Office will be handling that procedure.
Arizona State University has shared the final report on Linking Communities and Public Lands through Tourism. The study is already having positive results in the community.