October is National Fire Prevention month and Bluffdale is celebrating! Please join us on Monday, October 9th 6:00-8:00 PM at fire station #92 (14895 Noell Nelson Drive) for a family open house. There will be crafts, home made root beer, tours, fire prevention education, trucks on display and question and answer opportunities. On Monday, October 16th there will be an open house at fire station #91 (14350 S 2200 W).
I want to share some history about our fire department as we focus on Fire Prevention Month. Bluffdale was incorporated in 1978 and by 1980 had a population of 1300 residents. We had a volunteer fire department until the year 2001 when we had a population of around 5,000 residents. It was then that our city hired 2 part-time fire fighters to be available for 12-hour shifts Monday-Friday. We still had volunteers during the night and on weekends.
In the year 2004, Bluffdale began paying 2 part-time fire fighters 24-hour coverage for 7 days a week. As of today, we have over 19,000 residents and we still have a part-time fire department.
This time of year, during hunting season, staffing the fire station becomes more of a challenge. Every fire station in the valley has the same challenge. Those with full-time fire fighters can mandate overtime. Mandatory overtime from other stations affects us negatively. Fire fighters who have signed up for a Bluffdale shift are pulled from that shift at the last minute and are required to report to their full-time jobs. This leaves us short when we think we were covered, as there is little warning. With fire fighters working overtime shifts and the reduced pool of available fire fighters (due to vacationing/hunting), we end up with unstaffed seats.
Currently, we budget for 6 fire fighters per day. Four at station 92 (a medic engine and/or an ambulance) and two at station 91 (a Medic Ambulance).
Our staffing for the 9/4 - 9/17 pay period (14 days) was as follows:
• 1 day fully staffed
• 4 days 1 seat short
• 6 days 2 seats short—Station 91 Closed
• 3 Days 3 seats short—Station 91 Closed, Station 92 short 1 seat
Station 91 was closed 9 of the 14 days. The plan, as put forward by our fire chief (to move toward hiring 6 full-time fire fighters this year) and supported with the budget dollars approved by the city council, would have resolved our problem—the problem of being short-staffed and having to close a fire station. We have put on hold the hiring of the 6 full-time positions until we know the results of the vote on November 21, 2023.
I want to encourage everyone to go to the open houses this month and talk with Chief Evans and his fire staff. Bring the family to participate in the activities and thank the fire fighters for being willing to pick up extra hours to work in Bluffdale.