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December 24, 2008 3:54 am

Frannie-Deaver fire district still on hold

Written by Tribune Staff

The newly-formed Big Horn County Fire Protection District No. 5 aspired to roll trucks by Dec. 15, but that likely will not occur until late next year.

The district still is stuck in a liability standoff with Park County Fire Protection District No. 1 in Powell, despite a recent decision from the Wyoming attorney general.

In an opinion dated Dec. 15, Wyoming Attorney General Bruce Salzburg said the Powell fire district is liable for providing fire protection in the Frannie-Deaver area. But at the same time, when the Powell district gets tax assessment money for the established boundaries of the detracted Frannie-Deaver district, the Powell fire district is obliged to pass that money to the new district.

“Because (the detracted district) will not directly receive the taxes collected on the levy for fire protection, (the Powell district) will remain responsible for providing fire protection services in the detracted area through at least November 10, 2009,” Salzburg wrote in his statement.

Powell fire district board President Dan Laursen isn't happy with the decision.

“He (Salzburg) tells us to pass it on, but we're still responsible,” Laursen said. “If we're going to run over there, we should keep the money.”

The Powell fire district board would be more than happy to pass the fire-protection torch to the Frannie-Deaver district if the liability issue could be solved, Laursen said.

Meanwhile, the new district also is facing a setback over where firefighters would receive fire calls from.

An agreement between the city of Powell and the Frannie-Deaver district, which would have been effective Dec. 15, would have had Powell dispatch paging the Frannie-Deaver fire department.

But, because the state-of-the-art radio equipment in Powell did not mesh with the fire district's radios, the fire department now must be summoned from Lovell dispatch, said Shirley Banks of Frannie, the Frannie-Deaver district's board treasurer.

Frannie-Deaver board secretary Coleen Wagner of Deaver said she believes the attorney general's decision favored the Frannie-Deaver district, but the Powell board continues to have issues with liability.

The district's 17-20 volunteer firefighters are training, and Wagner said personnel hope to include medical first response once the new district begins rolling trucks. But she said the district needs the tax revenue to operate.Wagner said their goal is to help people in need.

“Next year, we'll receive our tax money like we thought we would this year,” Wagner said.

In a meeting on Friday, Dec. 19, Laursen paraphrased what his board said to the Big Horn County Fire Protection District No. 5: “‘You guys figure out how we're not liable anymore, and we'll pass it on.'”

Laursen said he believes the detracted district eventually will begin answering fire calls.

“We'll get it figured out, I hope,” Laursen said.