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Wyoming Fire Officials Ask Public Not To Be Drunk While Lighting Off Fireworks

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Fire officials always have a list of things to be careful about around the Fourth of July.

But the simplest tip may be this one from a Park County fire official: “Don’t hold things that go ‘BOOM.’”

Sam Wilde, fire marshal for Park County Fire District No. 2 in Cody, is joining fire officials across the state in urging residents to use common sense this 4th of July weekend, for the safety of the individual and the benefit of the community at large.

“Fireworks should be kept a good distance from any structures or combustible grasses,” Wilde said. “Check the weather conditions. Make sure we’re not under red flag warnings, that we’re not under fire restrictions. If it’s windy, don’t do it.” 

Wilde has been the fire marshal for Park County District 2 for nearly 20 years. In that time, he has experienced a number of fire calls in which fireworks caused property damage.

“A few years back, we changed (Cody fireworks display) vendors,” Wilde said. “And it’s not uncommon for us to have fires across the river, down on the hillside (where the display is shot from, away from private property.) The new vendor wanted to move the firework show closer into town, and I wouldn’t allow it.”

Wilde said the vendor appealed to the City Council, which ultimately took Wilde’s advice and kept the fireworks display set up where it had been for the previous 27 years – which turned out to be a good thing. 

“That year, (a fire) took the whole hillside,” Wilde said.

Busy Weekend

Wilde told Cowboy State Daily he learned quickly that the Fourth of July weekend would be busy for a volunteer firefighter.

“In my rookie year, 1996, we had 27 fire calls in a 3 hour period,” he said. “Almost all caused by fireworks.”

Wilde pointed out people assume that when they call the fire department, somebody will be on the way. But on a busy holiday in which incendiary devices are being set off all over the county, that isn’t always the case.

“I remember one night on the Fourth of July, we had every truck staffed,” Wilde said. “And everybody was going to different calls. And they got to the point where the tones would go off on the pagers to an address, and there was nobody left to respond.” 

Wilde urged residents setting off fireworks to have a garden hose, fire extinguisher and a shovel handy, so if a small fire does start, there’s a chance it could be extinguished while still small.

“Before it burns up the neighbor’s fence or their yard or the field or something,” Wilde said.

Don’t Be Drunk

Adult supervision – sober – is also a must, he added.

“Sometimes, especially on that kind of holiday, people have a tendency to be enjoying libations,” Wilde said, “and so sometimes common sense goes out the window.”

And don’t assume that just because fireworks are pointed up, they will go that way, advised Cheyenne resident Jonathan Downing.

He recalled at a celebration 15 years ago when he was living east of Cheyenne, when a Roman candle misfired and ended up setting a field in the back of his house on fire.

One attendee rushed out to extinguish the flames with a blanket, trying to hurdle a fence in the process.

“He misjudged the height and brought the entire fence down,” Downing said. “But once he recovered, he was pretty effective in snuffing out the flames.”

Downing said the other attendees at his fireworks show were of no help whatsoever due to the celebratory beverages they had consumed.

“They were just out on my deck laughing at the fire and our friend who had ruined my fence and was trying to put the flames out,” he said. “I think they were rooting for the fire.”

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How Will Sweetwater County Fund Ambulance Service?

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By Caroline Phillips, Rock Springs Rocket Miner

SWEETWATER COUNTY — Following the failed attempt to pass the proposed general-purpose tax initiative during the special election on Nov. 2, the ambulance service was the biggest discussion point during the intergovernmental joint leadership meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 9.

If passed, the general-purpose tax would have been able to be used to help fund the ambulance service.

It was suggested at the beginning of the meeting that the topic be removed from the agenda.

However, several government officials attending the meeting were opposed to doing so.

“I do object to taking it off of the agenda. I think we need to continue this conversation with or without the funding from the general-purpose tax,” Rock Springs mayor Tim Kaumo said. “I think that this is a serious issue that we need to maintain communication on and resolve.”

“I think it needs to stay on the top of the agenda,” Rock Springs councilman Tim Robinson said. “The ambulance is going to continue to be at the top of everybody’s mind.

“When the county commission decided to refund Sweetwater Medics last March, it was done without the knowledge of the ambulance committee.”

Robinson is a member of the ambulance committee that was tasked with finding “long term and short-term solutions” for the funding.

Robinson said that when the University of Utah unsuccessfully tried to put together an ambulance service that would cover the entire county, some of the committee members were only notified afterwards.

Green River councilwoman Sherry Bushman, another ambulance committee member, echoed Kaumo and Robinson’s remarks about continuing the conversation about the ambulance service.

Rock Springs fire chief Jim Wamsley is a member of the ambulance service board and he agreed that there needed to be more open communication concerning the topic at hand.

“The biggest tool that we have at our disposal to help solve this problem collectively is collaboration and transparency,” Wamsley said. “When the county commission chose to terminate the contract with Sweetwater Medics in December, no one was given notice; which that’s your prerogative, that’s fine.

“But when we asked, ‘How do we proceed?’ we were told, ‘Oh we don’t know. Just dissolve yourselves if you want to.’ When we were called back, we have not seen the collaboration, feedback and the opportunity to have honest discussions we had requested.”

Sweetwater County commissioner Lauren Schoenfeld said that some of the discussions around contracts for this issue have been had in executive session.

“They haven’t been shared with the public as much as much as I believe that we could,” Schoenfeld said. “I think that needs to change moving forward. I think this is a great venue to have open discussions about what’s going on with the ambulance service, what we can do and making sure the community knows the efforts that are being put in.”

Green River mayor Pete Rust said that he thinks that the committee should move forward with input from each of the governmental entities.

“All of the entities need to look at the representatives that they have on both the ambulance committee and the communications committee,” Rust said. “Update them if they want to and get any input that the councils want from their representative.”

Near the end of the meeting, commissioner Randy “Doc” Wendling suggested that the committee reconvene moving forward.

“Let’s get it back together, let’s find out who’s missing on that committee for representation and start moving forward.”

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