Dammeron Valley Fire achieves SSD status; improved service and opportunities

Image by Brett Barrett, St. George News

UPDATE – At a Washington County Commission meeting May 21, the DVFD&R SSD Administrative Control Board was appointed with the following members: Mac Sorensen, four-year term, Sheri Mandell, four-year term, Mac Thomson, two-year term,  Bill King, two-year term and Craig Meyocks, four-year term.

DAMMERON VALLEY – Dammeron Valley Fire Department & Rescue is on the cusp of becoming a Special Service District, a move that will boost the department’s relations with the community and other fire departments and ensure a future of advancement.

For the past year, DVFD&R has worked closely with the Dammeron Valley Landowners Association, the Washington County Commission, the Utah Department of Natural Resources and members of the community to establish the SSD.

Washington County Commissioner Alan Gardner said Dammeron Valley citizens have been nearly unanimous in supporting the SSD. Only one negative statement was received but was later withdrawn once the citizen gained a better understanding of the process.

The SSD was approved on Feb. 5, 2013, through a certificate of creation from the Utah Lieutenant Governor. Among the benefits it provides to the community are the following:

  • Governmental immunity and liability protection for DVFD&R and Dammeron Valley residents
  • Access to federal and state grants
  • Access to improved federal and state training programs
  • A Cooperative Rate Agreement contract, which allows DVFD&R to be reimbursed for the cost of fire suppression activities on state and federal lands
  • Mutual aid between DVFD&R and other Washington County fire departments

The final step in transforming DVFD&R into a fire and rescue SSD is to appoint the SSD Administrative Control Board, which will be done at a Washington County Commission meeting Tuesday. The creation of the SSD will not change the current administrative or operational practices of DVFD&R.

“DVFD&R will be like all the other fire and EMS departments who are already an SSD in the State of Utah,” said Sheri Mandell, communications coordinator for the Dammeron Valley Landowners Association.

We are a great dynamic team offering our services to the residents of Dammeron Valley and Washington County,” DVFD&R Chief Maciej Szczerbiak said. “We look forward to expanding our abilities and protecting our residents.”

DVFD&R was established in October 1980 through a $5,000 grant from the Landowners Association, who felt that the community should have its own fire protection rather than depending on the nearby Veyo Volunteer Fire Department. That grant purchased a used fire truck which was stored, maintained and operated by the one-man crew of Max Talbot, a former Navy firefighter who would later become DVFD&R’s first fire chief.

The Dammeron Valley Volunteer Fire Department (which became DVFD&R once the department obtained a state license for EMS service) was officially formed in 1985. Construction on the firehouse began in 1983 and continued through 1989 as improvements including a siren, steeple and additional storage were made. The department has continued to improve and expand its services since as funds have become available.

Aside from occasional donations of equipment from private entities, DVFD&R is supported solely by the Landowners Association; 75 percent of the landowners’ combined yearly dues are given to the department.

Today, DVFD&R offers structural fire protection and wildland fire suppression to Dammeron Valley and nearby unincorporated areas of Washington County, along with EMS service to Dammeron Valley, Diamond Valley, Veyo, Brookside, Gunlock and State Route-18 from mile marker 11.5 to 24.  The department employs 21 firefighters, some of whom are certified paramedics, Hazmat technicians and engineers who train twice monthly in basic firefighting, medical treatment and the proper care and use of firefighting equipment.

All, including Szczerbiak, are volunteers who work mainly in St. George. Despite this, the department has an average response time of 17 minutes, including for calls more than 10 miles outside of Dammeron Valley.

“We are proud of all of our volunteers,” Mandell said. “(They) are very well trained, certified and can be counted on to help when called for any emergency.”

Email: avmorgan@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

Image by Brett Barrett, St. George News
Image by Brett Barrett, St. George News

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