FARMINGTON — Helping a neighboring community fight a fire is one thing, getting reimbursed for the effort is another.
City officials have taken steps to formally be reimbursed for firefighting efforts on state lands by approving a memorandum of understanding between the city’s fire department and the Utah Division of Forestry. The MOU was approved by a unanimous vote of the council.
Without the memorandum, the city cannot legally seek reimbursement of expenses incurred when fighting a fire on state or federal lands, according to Fire Chief Guido Smith. He said state officials are emphatic about making sure proper agreements are in place before providing any reimbursement funds.
Smith noted that because the agreement wasn’t in place, the city won’t be reimbursed any of its expenses for helping to fight a mountainside fire earlier this year in Centerville.
“If we assist another city, once we’re into Forest Service land, especially when it turns into a prolonged event, that’s where the reimbursement comes into play,” Smith said.
Mayor Scott Harbertson expressed surprise that an agreement wasn’t already in place. Smith told him officials previously had started but never completed work on the agreement.
The document also puts the city in a position to potentially benefit from federal and state programs outlined in National Wildfire Coordinating Group guidelines, Smith said.