State awards Cedar City Fire Department with Cooperator of the Year award for dedicated service

The Cedar City Fire Department is presented the "Cooperator of the Year" award by Division of Forestry Fire and State Lands, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 5, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Cedar City Fire Department was recently awarded for its efforts in serving as an example to fire departments across the state.

Firefighters from multiple agencies work at the scene of a fire that burned 10 acres near Iron Springs Road, Iron County, Utah, Aug. 22, 2019 | File photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

The Division of Forestry Fire and State Lands’ Cooperator of the Year award was presented by Utah State Forester Brian Cottam at a ceremony that took place Nov. 5 at the Utah Department of Natural Resources’ headquarters in Salt Lake City.

The department was recognized for its “dedication to duty to the citizens of Utah,” said Cottam, who applauded the department for excellence in fire suppression, preparedness, fire prevention and hazardous fuels mitigation.

The annual award is presented to any agency that assists in firefighting efforts, which can range from sheriff’s offices, roads departments and fire departments, Mike Melton, fire management officer for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, told Cedar City News.

As such, the Cedar City Fire Department was selected from a wide pool of agencies from all over the state, Melton said, adding the decision to nominate the department was simple.

“Those guys put so much effort, and anytime help is needed, they reach out to assist,” he said.

Melton said the Cedar City Fire Department works very well with state and local agencies and recognizing the department for its efforts “was just the right thing to do.”

Cedar City Fire Chief Mike Phillips said the award also goes to the firefighters who stay behind to respond to calls, assist the community and “keep everything running” when fire crews are called away to fight fires elsewhere.

“This award goes to my guys — they earned it,” he said.

Behind every firefighter is a spouse who supports them in their efforts and long hours, Philips said.

Smoke from the Neck Fire burning north of Cedar City in Iron County, Utah, Sept. 7, 2019 | File photo courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management, St. George News / Cedar City News

He added that the award would not have been possible without the working relationships the department has with local, state and federal agencies that come together in firefighting efforts, regardless of where those fires occur.

“We don’t care what color the fire truck is,” Phillips said. “As long as the fire is out.”

The Cedar City Fire Department is made up of 12 full-time career firefighters and 42 part-time volunteer firefighters who serve an 800 square-mile area that includes Cedar City, Enoch, Cedar Highlands, Kanarraville and unincorporated areas of Iron County.

The department provides assistance to other areas in need, Melton said, as well as being a valuable resource for the State of Utah both regionally and nationally. The department’s most recent efforts include sending a wildland engine to assist in California’s catastrophic fire situation.

Crews were recently sent to Sonoma County, California, where they worked alongside local fire departments to contain the Kincade Fire burning near San Francisco that forced hundreds of residents from their homes.

The Cedar City Fire Department “has become a strong leader in the Utah Wildfire Cooperative Fire Program,” Iron County Fire Warden Ryan Riddle said in a statement.

Riddle said the department’s efforts, which have been focused on all aspects of wildfire suppression, prevention and training, are “an example to other fire departments statewide.”

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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