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Sat, Oct. 19

Valle-Wood VFD studies<br>possibility of fire district

VALLE — Larry Doering was on the job as the Valle-Wood Volunteer Fire Department’s new fire chief for less than a week when his pager began beeping on the afternoon of March 11.

Fire chief Larry Doering shows off the department's fire truck during an open house last year.

Former chief Mike Bovee had moved on to a new job the previous week. Doering, who works for Graves Butane, was in the Tusayan area on propane business when he received the page. The call was for a mobile home fire near Valle.

The home was a loss for Colleen Burns and her three children. Firefighters know that mobile homes can go up in a matter of minutes when a fire breaks out. Doering and the other volunteers, along with help from the Tusayan Fire Department, contained the fire and cooled down dangerous propane tanks that were on the site.

The fire served as another example of the importance of a fire department for the Valle area. The Valle-Wood VFD board gathered Wednesday to discuss its role for the future with one possibility being the formation of a fire district.

Board member Dick Olson is gathering information on fire districts. Olson said there are many steps to the process, such as an impact study on the area, before the proposal would go to the Coconino County Board of Supervisors.

If the proposal would prove to be feasible, Olson said formation of the district would follow.

"We’re just beginning to learn the steps that need to be taken," Olson said. "It’s nothing that’s going to happen fast."

Olson said it could be 12 to 18 months before a district could be formed.

"It’s one way to start recovering some money," Olson said, adding that taxpayer money currently goes into a fire recovery fund of which none goes to the fire department. "If there’s a fire district, we could recoup what we’re paying in, approximately."

Roger Miller, board president, said the fire department received information on forming a district in the past.

"There is no definite fire district being formed at this point in time," Miller said. "The Arizona Fire Districts Association gave us a talk about this several years ago and at that point in time, people were concerned about the tax rate."

Still, forming a fire district would allow the department to expand its capabilities for service to the community and surrounding area.

"We would like at some point in time to spend tax district dollars for the betterness of the department and pay firefighters for going out on calls, just to cover their expense and time involved," Miller said.

The volunteer fire department began in 1995.

The board meeting last week was preceded by an open house which included free food. However, turnout for the event appeared to be a disappointment with only a handful of people showing up.

During the meeting, board members discussed problems with drawing interest from the community. Board members, volunteer firefighters and support on calls were mentioned as areas of need.

For those interested in becoming involved with the Valle-Wood VFD, call the department at 606-5994 or Olson at 635-2000. Meetings are scheduled for the first Wednesday each month and meet at Olson’s home, 276 Walnut Road.

In other news from Wednesday’s meeting:

o Board member Tom Scruggs gave a report on this year’s Fourth of July fireworks show. In the past, the fireworks have been shot off at Flintstones’ Village. Scruggs said the department hopes they can work something out with owner Linda Speckels on utilizing that site again. The board mentioned that there could be a repeat of two years ago when a countywide fireworks ban went into effect because of drought conditions. That year, the show was moved to Labor Day weekend.

o Miller expressed concern over possible wildland fires this summer. Miller said readiness among volunteers will be a key. The area went through another dry winter and fire conditions are expected to be extreme.

o The board discussed the possibility of moving the firehouse. Olson planned to look at one particular lot of interest.

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