Lehi signs on to Utah County Metro Fire Agency

LEHI -- Lehi city has signed an agreement to join the Utah County Metro Fire Agency.

Tuesday, at approximately 8:45 p.m., city council members unanimously voted yes to allow Mayor Bert Wilson to sign the UCMFA legal document for Lehi city.

"We are proposing that the agreement be adopted so we can move forward with this," said Lehi Fire Battalion Chief Rick Howard. "With this agreement, it allows us to use the resources they have and allows them to use the resources we have."

The idea of an agency for north Utah County began when firefighters saw how well it worked in Davis and Salt Lake counties, said Lone Peak Fire Chief Brad Freemen. Lone Peak Public Safety District board members approved the proposed bylaws for UCMFA on Feb. 24, he said, and the next step is to move the plan before the district's individual municipalities of Highland, Alpine and Cedar Hills.

Eagle Mountain, Saratoga Springs, American Fork and Pleasant Grove leaders are deciding whether or not to jump on board with the agency. Saratoga Springs politicians are mulling over their options, contracting with United Fire Authority in Salt Lake County, going with UCMFA, or remaining as is. They are hosting an informal open house on March 23 at the Saratoga Springs city offices from 6 to 8 p.m. to present those choices to its residents to gauge response.

Other cities and towns have also been approached about forming the agency, including Provo and Orem.

"I think it's just a matter of time before the other cities do this," Howard said. "There is no downside to this."

Firefighters say the agency wouldn't cost cities more than they're already paying, and the cities would retain their autonomy while sharing resources and manpower.

If anything, Howard said, it will save them money by providing greater buying power. Buying equipment as an agency would also provide them with uniform equipment.

Howard gave the example of purchasing equipment as an agency instead of individual entities with the use of SCBA tanks, or self-contained breathing apparatus, that firefighters use inside a burning structure.

Unless the equipment is the same brand, he said, the hookups will not easily match and adaptors for the air hose at the nipple are needed for a firefighter giving aid to another city's firefighter who may need more air.

"Now we have a consortium," he said. "We don't buy 25 packs each, but say 75 at a better price."

The agency will save money in training as well, according to its proponents. Hazardous-materials teams can be formed within the agency instead of having to train a whole team within a city department or district. Cities that have specialized groups, such as Saratoga Springs with water-and-ice rescue, can benefit other communities.

"What we are asking is to consider the adoption that will help the fire agencies, at least help the north end of this county," Howard said Tuesday before the council vote.

"Some of the cities are smaller but are also able to bring services that we don't provide," he said.

Councilman James Dixon made the motion to allow the Lehi mayor to sign the UCMFA agreement, Councilman Mark Johnson made the second, and the motion carried.