Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fire Department is ‘adequate,’ mayor says

Sun Valley, Ketchum discuss fire protection


By REBECCA MEANY
Express Staff Writer

The Sun Valley Fire Department is conducting business as usual, despite the continued absence of its longtime chief, according to Mayor Dewayne Briscoe.

Jeff Carnes and his wife, Tina, who also works for the city, were placed on paid, administrative leave late last year. Briscoe has been working to assuage concerns about the Fire Department's chain of command and ability to respond to incidents in the same manner as before.

"We have an adequate, functioning ... force," he said during a City Council meeting Thursday.

Assistant Fire Chief Ray Franco is serving as acting Fire Chief, and Mal Prior is serving as acting assistant chief.

The mayors of Ketchum and Sun Valley as well as fire department representatives held discussions last week about how their cooperative agreement is being carried out and whether Sun Valley has adequate staff to respond to mutual-aid incidents, especially those involving the aerial tower truck.

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"I'm pleased with how the meeting went," Mayor Randy Hall told the Idaho Mountain Express. "We for the first time in a long time have access to information. It was refreshing to have an open discussion. We are pleased with what they've done. They still have a lot of highly motivated volunteers and staff."

The department chiefs will continue to meet over the next few months to keep communication lines open.

"The No. 1 issue is keeping our firefighters safe," Hall said. "They truly are interested in firefighter safety and training."

Sun Valley Councilman Nils Ribi said Thursday he was satisfied with the way the departments were functioning together.

"When you let those guys do their own thing, you find out that things operate pretty darn well on their own," Ribi said.

Rebecca Meany: rmeany@mtexpress.com

Aerial Tower may get 2nd chance

An aging aerial tower truck co-owned by Sun Valley and Ketchum is nearing the end of its life, at least as far as insurance coverage goes. The ladder truck is 23 years old. "It's not our regulations," said Sun Valley Mayor Dewayne Briscoe. "It's the industry standards that if this vehicle, regardless of its condition, reaches 25 years of age it's considered obsolete and does not exist. And the fire rates for all of us in the city go up." In November, Sun Valley tried but failed to pass a bond that would have funded half of a new $1.2 million ladder truck. The city is now considering whether the truck can be refurbished to an extent that will satisfy fire insurance requirements.




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