Payson, Star Valley and Diamond Point residents are reaping the rewards of closer working relationships between their fire departments. It doesn't matter what the decal on the fire engine reads or what the stencil on the back of the blue T-shirt says, quality, service and faster response is what citizens are getting these days. Thanks to both the Payson Town Council and the Diamond Star Fire District board of directors, who listened to the advice of their respective fire chiefs, boundaries have faded and public safety is the winner.
Two years ago, Payson Fire Chief John Ross and Diamond Star Fire Chief Gary Hatch recognized that by dropping geo-political boundaries and sending the closest available fire unit, lives could be saved and fire damage reduced. I have seen first hand that this closer relationship is working and services to both communities have improved.
Historically, both fire departments have eagerly come to the aid of each other when emergencies have called for additional resources. In the past, emergency call volume was lower and turf was sacred. The "we'll take care of our own" attitude was part of a proud tradition. However, with recent eastward growth of the town, increasing call volume and limited budgets in both departments, innovation was needed to provide the best service possible. With fire departments all across the nation consolidating to provide services, it only seemed logical to do the same here.
I am happy to report the experiment has worked. Services have improved. Duplication of manpower has decreased and the Town of Payson has not taken over Star Valley. These fire departments have proven that communities can work together, and consolidate without losing identity. Now may be the time for all Rim country fire departments to consider improving through consolidation.
John D. Wisner