Financial resources from the State of Utah to battle wildfires within or on the periphery of city limits will become available to Tooele City on July 1.
The Tooele City Council on Wednesday night unanimously approved a cooperative agreement with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands to participate in a plan that helps defray the cost of fighting wildfires.
In exchange, the city agrees to spend about $20,838 per year on fire prevention projects to decrease the risk of wildfires within the city.
Tooele is still responsible for the cost of the initial attack, but if the state is needed it would pay for additional costs, according to Tooele City Fire Chief Bucky Whitehouse. If aircraft is needed to fight a wildfire, the state would pay all those costs, according to the agreement.
“It is basically like taking out an insurance policy from the state in case we have a catastrophic fire within the city’s boundaries,” Whitehouse told council members in a work session on March 1.
“The fire department considers this to be an important addition to what we do for Tooele City,” Whitehouse said. “We appreciate the support of the council to enter into this agreement.”
Councilman Steve Pruden told the fire chief that the council appreciates all the work Whitehouse and city’s firefighters do.
“It is an honor to sign this agreement,” Pruden said.
“We have wildfire risks within Tooele City limits that we need to start to assess and deal with,” Whitehouse said. “When you factor in all the ground Tooele owns in Settlement Canyon, including Camp Wapiti and the foothills on the south and land on the north, west and east of Tooele — we have major wildfire risk.”
A wildfire is considered beyond initial attack for a city in four situations, according to the agreement:
1. If the local government decides to transition out of initial attack.
2. If wildfire suppression resources are ordered through one of the interagency fire centers.
3. If a wildfire enters federally/state-managed land.
4. At the direction of the state forester.