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Question of whether to create the Mid Valley Fire District will be on the 2020 Ballot

◆ Thayne Fire Department looking to secure funding.

The question of whether or not to create the Mid Valley Fire District in Star Valley will be on the 2020 Ballot in November. According to Thayne Fire Chief Toby Merritt, community support of the initiative will mean secure funding for fire protection.

“The fire district will be on the ballot for the county side of things,” said Merritt. “The Town of Star Valley Ranch and the Town of Thayne will be exempt from that. Not exempt from fire coverage, but they will not be part of the fire district. They will contract with the fire district for fire coverage.”

Establishing the Mid Valley Fire District will allow the Thayne Volunteer Fire Department to have secure funding, Merritt said. That funding will be used to purchase the necessary equipment the department needs as well as pay for the training the fire department personnel need.

“With the steady growth in our fire area we need the financial ability to provide the best fire protection,” Merritt said.

The plus side for property owners within the district is that insurance rates could be lowered at the same time that the level of safety is elevated.

Having a fire district in place also frees the Thayne Fire Department up to seek funding opportunities in the form of grants and loans, Merritt said.

“People are always asking what they can do to help the fire department,” Merritt said. “This year the biggest thing you can do to help the fire department is to vote yes in November.”

According to Merritt, the costs of maintaining a rural fire department are astronomical. Fire and safety equipment is expensive, costing close to $20,000 per fireman, he said.

“We have 27 members of the Thayne Fire Department,” Merritt explained. “And we are not spending $20,000 on each one of those people each year. But we do have Cadets and if we get three Cadets to become firemen in a year, that’s $60,000 right there.”

The price tag on fire trucks and fire equipment continues to go up each year, Merritt said. When equipment wears out or needs to be replaced the dollars add up quick, he explained.

“We are a completely volunteer service and that will not change,” Merritt said. “We will continue to be a volunteer service.”

According to Merritt, the tax dollars that come in to the Thayne Volunteer Fire Department through the creation of the Mid Valley Fire District will stay directly with the fire district.

Merritt encouraged anyone with questions about the Mid Valley Fire District to talk with a Thayne Volunteer Fire Department member or visit the fire department’s Facebook page.