HURRICANE, Utah (ABC4) – It’s day three of training for four firefighters at Hurricane Valley Fire Department. Sunny Kim just received his EMT Basic Degree from Dixie State University and says his starting pay is about $12 an hour.
“Pay sometimes you think, at the moment during certain things, you wish it was a little bit more,” says Kim.
This is one reason the Washington County Fire Warden, Adam Heyder, says departments in Southern Utah are seeing fewer firefighters and low volunteerism.
“Especially over the last five years, and we typically see that as the economy gets good, volunteerism drops down, but even with the full time departments, state agencies, federal agencies, pay is a huge issue,” says Heyder.
Heyder says as wildfires plague the state and emergency calls rise due to the drought, it’s hard to keep up, despite an interagency process giving fire managers the ability to move resources around Utah.
“We don’t have the resources we need, and all the resources we have are dedicated out to suppressing wildfire, so we’re not getting a lot of the mitigation, prevention,” says Heyder.
Heyder says it’s vital residents take preventative measures in a time where public safety resources are scarce.
“With predicted lightning coming in, if we really get a lot of lightning in the state, we’re going to be having to staff a lot of fires across the state of Utah with everything we have and we don’t need to be chasing all these extra human caused fires,” says Hayden.
Reminding people to check their vehicles, equipment, and follow state and local fire restrictions.