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Existence of rural fire department questioned by White Bird council

— Questions over the existence of a rural fire department were raised at the Dec. 14 White Bird City Council meeting. At the heart of the issue is the ownership of firetrucks White Bird is utilizing and who pays to maintain those vehicles.

Mayor Rod Pilant gave an update on recent fire training and a service call by the White Bird Fire Department. He then mentioned the city ordered batteries for the fire trucks.

Tensions rose after council member Paul Sands stated he didn’t believe the city should be “subsidizing the rural fire department.” He stated he believed a White Bird Rural Fire Department had existed and was absorbed by the Salmon River Rural Fire Department. He also said he believed two of three trucks sitting in White Bird belonged to Salmon River.

Council Member Homer Brown asked, “Are you saying the only truck we have out there is the truck that doesn’t work? Is there any documentation that you have other than the Idaho Department of Lands agreement?”

Sands had referenced an agreement with the Idaho Department of Lands for the trucks, stating it went back four to five years. There was some question as to where the document resides, though Sands and Comrie acknowledged seeing it.

When asked by Brown what the fix for the situation was, Sands replied, “we ignore it. I think we need to contact Salmon River and ask them [for coverage].”

“I’m not willing to turn those trucks loose and rely on whoever shows up,” Brown said.

The situation was diffused when Pilant stated he would prefer Mark Gravatt, volunteer trainer, be available for any conversation about the fire department.

Other agenda items from the White Bird City Council meeting Dec. 14 include:

  • Jerry Mackie, public works director, reported the city’s two wells are keeping up with demand. He also noted he purchased heat lamps to keep the wells from accumulating ice buildup.
  • The council received a draft of an ordinance defining recreational vehicles and parking permits for those types of vehicles in the city. Council member Barb Lowe requested a work session to review the ordinance. The work session was scheduled for Dec. 20.
  • Discussion on rates charged by the White Bird Road District for seal coating. Pilant states the cost of $20,000 was firm and was substantially less than the last job charged out by the department. Council member Janis Comrie suggested the city research funds available from the State of Idaho.

Next meeting is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 11 at the White Bird City Hall, 212 River St.


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