Commissioners Approve Additional Staffing for County Fire Department

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The Sweetwater County Fire Department responding to the Bender Fire in September 2018. Photo contributed by Mike Bournazian

SWEETWATER COUNTY– At Tuesday’s Sweetwater County Commissioners Meeting, Sweetwater County Fire Warden Mike Bournazian requested for additional staffing for the fire department to increase safety and efficiency when responding to fires.

The following additional staffing was requested:

  • 1- full-time engine boss
  • 2- nine-month seasonal firefighters
  • 3- six-month seasonal firefighters
  • 1- three-month seasonal firefighters

With these additional firefighters, there comes a cost consequence of $238,593.91.

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“In my opinion, this department has never been staffed adequately,” Bournazian said. “We make the best with what we’ve got but… we cannot continue operating the way we are.”

Bournazian said every person on staff worked 28 days straight with no days off at least once in 2018. With the personnel numbers in 2018, the department was unable to give people time off between fires. He also noted that when the department is responding to a fire, they are unable to tend to another fire because of the inadequate staffing.

“What I’m asking for is enough personnel in the most effective manner I can find,” Bournazian said. He added that the staffing model he came up with meets the need with the least amount of impact on the budget.

What Do Firefighters Do in the Off Season?

Chairman Wally Johnson asked Bournazian what the firefighters will be doing when there are not fires to respond to.

Bournazian said that during the off season, the fire department helps with several tasks including working with Parks and Recreation in clearing roadways and removing dead trees in parks.

He said the department also helps with fire mitigation in Superior and Granger, assists the Events Complex, and works with the Wyoming State Forestry Division to help provide fire protection on state lands.

A major project the department is involved with is helping the State Forestry Division in removing dead trees on Little Mountain.

“We certainly don’t sit around the station all day,” Bournazian said.

He added that the department had about 7,000 hours on fires in 2018.

The commissioner unanimously approved the request.