Over the years, to stop flames or help residents in need, firefighters from Logan City Fire Department have found themselves occasionally crossing borders to help smaller cities that have fewer resources.
Now service borders are changing to expand access and services for one smaller community.
North Logan City Council voted last month in favor of an interlocal agreement to combine Logan and North Logan Fire and EMS Services, and following Tuesday evening’s affirming vote from Logan Municipal Council, the consolidation plans are a go.
“When I first moved here two and a half years ago, it seemed that Logan and North Logan working together just made sense,” said LCFD Chief Brad Hannig.
Hannig said that every year, on average, LCFD, with 57 people on staff, receives over 5,000 calls while North Logan Fire Department, with five full-time employees and a few volunteers, receives close to 1,000 calls. He said there has been a lot of overlap when it comes to covering incidents.
“Growth, time and demand really start to put a burden on volunteer services,” Hannig said. “North Logan has been at the precipice for a while now where it has become more difficult.”
The 10-year agreement will be effective starting July 1, and LCFD is busy preparing for the consolidation by managing the hiring process and handling promotions. All of this is happening amidst the constantly changing protocol as the departments deal with COVID-19 hurdles, which Hannig said has been stressful.
“We were trying to get this agreement done all the way back in December,” said NLFD Chief Jon Keller. “It has been a long time coming and we are hoping for a smooth transition.”
Hannig said that 25 years ago, Logan used to service North Logan before North Logan moved to a volunteer-based program. Over the past couple years as both communities have grown, managing the number of calls has become difficult.
The volunteer aspect of North Logan has been very important to the identity of the smaller community, but Keller said it was time to expand.
“Our volunteers have done a really good job but they are harder to come by now,” Keller said. “The ones who want to stay will still have a spot here.”
Volunteer fire departments in rural areas have long depended on the flexibility of people working in agricultural jobs in their own communities, but with changing demographics and more people commuting, it can be harder to staff a volunteer department.
“The volunteer demographic is changing,” Fire District Chief Rod Hammer told the County Council in 2015. “They’re not farmers or local citizen that work, play and live in the same city. Now they work outside their community, so staffing can be a concern during the day.”
Keller said not everyone has been happy with the upcoming merger because it is changing the way things have been for a while but he said it is what is best for the citizens of both communities.
“That is what we are here for, to protect our citizens,” Keller said. “This will guarantee good coverage for many years to come.”
The full-time employees from NLFD will all transfer over, and Keller said the agreement retains the volunteers as a reserve.
Hannig made sure to clarify that while the City of Logan has decided to withdraw from its emergency medical services contract with Cache County, the departure from Cache County Emergency Medical Services Authority will not have an impact on the functionality of the merger and the services that the consolidated fire department will be able to offer.
“It is a great benefit,” Hannig said. “At the end of the day we are able to better serve the citizens in both communities, and I know that it will improve response time for both communities as well.”