snider firefigher

Paradise firefighters Dave Bigelow, left, and Casey Snider work to put out a wildfire in Blacksmith Fork Canyon in 2013. Snider, now a state legislator, has submitted a bill that would protect responders’ employment from the repercussions of emergency absences.

One of Cache Valley’s newest representatives said he anticipates his first bills will come to a vote on the House floor this week, including one meant to protect emergency responders from the repercussions of work absences.

“I think (these) will have some impact in a positive way,” Rep. Casey Snider, R-Paradise, said at the Cache delegation town hall meeting Saturday morning.

The first of these bills is H.B. 176, which protects the employment of emergency service volunteers while they are called away from work to help in their community.

“It basically makes sure that as they’re serving us,” Snider said, “we’re protecting their jobs.”

Snider said this legislation is especially important for areas of state like Cache County where most of the emergency responders are volunteers.

According to Snider, his bill mimics federal protections given to members of the National Guard when they are unable to work because of service requirements.

“Obviously those are very different sacrifices,” Snider said, but the point of the bill is “ensuring that we’re also recognizing the importance of that as well.”

Lt. Doyle Peck, who is the division commander for support services in the Cache County Sheriff’s Department, said in order for search and rescue volunteers to be effective, they need to know their employment is secure.

“If they are always concerned their employer is going to fire them if they leave work to respond on a call out,” Peck said, “then they are not going to fully engage in the program very well.”

Peck said the overall relationship between the employers of search and rescue volunteers in Cache County and the search and rescue program has been positive.

He also said the search and rescue team recognizes flexibility goes both ways.

“Obviously if an employer has two or three of these guys on their staff,” Peck said, “and they are losing them every week, or two or three times a week, then how are they able to run the business?”

Peck said everyone has to work together to make the program work.

The second of Snider’s bills that has passed committee is H.B. 142, building construction amendments.

“(This) bill is looking to remove some of the regulatory hurdles that we have in our wood products industry,” Snider said.

According to Snider, H.B. 142 would direct the Utah Uniform Building Code Commission to make recommendations on how to use heavy, laminated wood products in building.

Snider said this would help with wildfire mitigation in the state because it would provide more options for using trees that need to be removed to prevent catastrophic blazes.

This could also help create more jobs in rural areas like Cache County, Snider said.