Casper Fire Chief Hasn’t Heard From Mills About Its Firefighting Plans
The Town of Mills has not communicated with Natrona County's largest fire department nearly a week after the town's council said it would shut down its fire department at the end of June.
"I haven't been contacted, I haven't been consulted, anything from the Town of Mills," Casper Fire-EMS Chief Tom Solberg said Tuesday.
Last week, the town council placed the resolution to deal with a long-running funding problem with its fire department on its agenda immediately before its regular meeting, Mayor Seth Coleman has said.
The Mills Fire Deparment, which went professional earlier in the decade, has been losing money and the town has subsidized it with Optional-One Cent Sales Tax revenues intended for infrastructure and maintenance, Coleman said.
The department will have staff for building inspections and emergency management planning, but will lay off its firefighters as of June 30. The firefighters union denounced the action as retaliation after contract negotiations broke down, which Coleman disputes.
The town will consider options including a volunteer fire department, some full-time professionals aided by volunteers, and contracting with other fire protection agencies.
But it hasn't talked to Casper, Solberg said.
The Casper Fire-EMS [emergency medical services], Mills and the other fire departments in the county have mutual aid agreements -- Casper will help Mills if needed, for example. Casper would help Mills more than Mills would help Casper, he said.
If Casper and Mills would talk, he would want to know the town's plans, he said. "That's going to affect me, the City of Casper as far as mutual aid both for fire and EMS."
Casper residents would not incur a direct cost if their fire department contracted with Mills, Solberg said. "What it would be would be a possibly increased use of Casper resources that go beyond reasonable mutual aid."
Casper Fire-EMS wants to avoid being overused misused, and that will cost for the city more, he said.
"That's what we don't want to do because our focus is our citizens," Solberg said.