SANTA CLARA – Last month, the Santa Clara Fire Department was recognized as “Cooperator of the Year” by the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and Public Lands.
Presented to the Fire Department on Oct. 28, the award was related to the role the fire department has played in supporting the state’s wildland fire program, Santa Clara Fire Chief Dan Nelson said. Specifically, the award pertains to the wildland fire training Santa Clara firefighters receive and also share with other area fire departments.
Nelson said Santa Clara firefighters undergo training that meets the standards of the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, which consists of multiple federal and state agencies. This training has benefited the Fire Department greatly, he said.
“We support it because it supports us,” Nelson said.
He added he believes the work ethic of the Fire Department’s members collectively contributed to the receipt of the award.
As part of coordinated training efforts with other fire agencies, Santa Clara Fire personnel have taken part in annual wildland firefighting trainings and exercises. They have also taught portions of those exercises along with a wildland engine academy.
This is actually the second time Santa Clara Fire has earned the award. The first time was in 2003 while Robert Hansen was the fire chief, Nelson said.
“It all started with Chief Bob Hansen,” he said, recalling how the Fire Department, in an effort to add to its small budget, began expanding more into the realms of wildland firefighting. Doing this has allowed the department to receive federal grants for additional training and equipment.
Due to Santa Clara firefighters being well-versed in wildland fire operations, some are called to respond to fires across the state or in other states to aid in fire suppression efforts. States where these firefighters have served include Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Texas and Wyoming.
Like the majority of fire departments in Washington County, Santa Clara Fire focuses on combating both wildland fires and structural fires. Only the St. George Fire Department primarily focuses on an urban environment, though it does deal with brush fires as needed.
The Santa Clara Fire Department presently consists of two full-time positions – the fire chief and battalion chief – and 28 volunteers.
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