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December 04, 2008 4:25 am

Frannie-Deaver fire district gets extension from Powell

Written by Tribune Staff

Because the new Frannie-Deaver fire district is having difficulties meeting some requirements to reach its end-of-the-year deadline to initiate fire protection, the Powell fire board on Tuesday granted the new district an extension to retain equipment the Powell Volunteer Fire Department provided.

The newly-formed Big Horn County Fire District No. 5, carved from Park County Fire Protection No. 1 district of Powell, has experienced difficulties meeting certain requirements. One major holdup is getting assessed valuation funding the new district is due from both Big Horn and Park counties — the two counties where No. 5 would provide fire protection.

Because representatives of the new district missed the January 2008 deadline to deliver its district boundary map to the Wyoming Department of Revenue, it is ineligible for assessment money this year. Without assessment funding, it cannot legally provide fire protection.

According to the Wyoming statute 35-9-214 (c), the original district (Park County No. 1) will continue providing fire protection until the new district (Big Horn County No. 5) receives its first assessment check.

In other words, the Powell Volunteer Fire Department remains liable in the Frannie-Deaver area until the new district receives its first assessment cash and officially takes the fire-suppression reins.

The question remains, if the new district receives Park County assessment revenue from the Powell district, can it legally provide Frannie-Deaver area residents with fire protection?

Both districts are awaiting a decision from the attorney general, but neither is sure when that decision will be made.

According to an agreement approved by the Big Horn County commissioners and by the Powell fire board, if the detraction is not completed by Dec. 31, 2008, all assets it received from the Powell fire department — three fire trucks and other equipment — must be returned.

Clay Ward, a retired Cody fireman, who is now chairman of a board tasked with getting the Frannie-Deaver district off the ground, said the new district board met with the Park County commissioners last month. He said the Park County attorney was supposed to contact the attorney general for a decision whether Frannie-Deaver district could provide fire-protection if the Powell fire board sends the new district's specified portion of revenue money.

The Frannie-Deaver board had hoped to roll trucks by Dec. 15, but Ward said that was a goal, not a deadline.

In the meantime, since the Dec. 31 deadline likely will not be met, the Powell fire board agreed to allow Frannie-Deaver to keep the trucks and other equipment it provided until Dec. 31, 2009, provided the Big Horn County Commissioners approves the extension.

By allowing the new district to hang onto the equipment, it will not be forced to start at square one to build its fire department equipment inventory next year.

“I think this is best,” said Powell Fire Protection District No. 1 Board President Dan Laursen.

“It's a necessity right now,” Ward said.

Meanwhile, representatives of the new district are working to get the district's legal ducks in a row. On Monday evening, they struck an agreement with the city of Powell to summon its fire trucks from police radio dispatch in Powell. The agreement is effective Dec. 15, 2008, and remains in place for five years.

“As far as the 9-1-1 thing, I think we got that pretty well solved now,” Ward said.