Fire Department History

Establishment

The Saratoga Springs Fire Department was established in July of 2000. It was started in a barn that was owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. There were several volunteers that had little or no training. Dave Vickers was hired as a full-time Fire Chief. His enthusiasm and background were instrumental in acquiring several used vehicles; including a 1957 american LaFrance Engine and several military vehicles that were converted into wildland firefighting units.

At that time the Fire Department was providing basic emergency medical first response. Lehi City was used as the ambulance transporting agency. By January of 2002, a 3 bay fire station was constructed at 2015 South Redwood Road that contained a much needed training room for the rapidly growing department.

By the end of 2002, most department members had received their Firefighter 1 and 2 certifications, Hazardous Materials Operations, Wildland Firefighter and achieved the basic level of Emergency Medical Technician. The volunteers signed up for shifts during the day, and were placed into 2 man teams with a rotating schedule for being on call. These teams would cover first response in the City from their homes with a City truck. Most Department members immediately started the next available EMT-Intermediate class in preparation to provide a higher level of service to the community. The department had grown to approximately 18 volunteers with a volunteer Deputy Chief and 4 volunteer Captains.


Expansion

The years 2002 through 2006 brought an increase in the number of residents as well as the number of emergency calls for the Fire Department.

By the end of March 2006, Chief Vickers moved on to new things and the department acquired Chief Mike Penovich. The department moved forward with the new chief. By the end of May 2006 a new fire station was built at 995 W 1200 N above Sunrise Meadows subdivision. The department moved into the new 2 bay pull through station which contained living quarters, administrative offices, physical fitness room, and a training room. The department had also acquired new fire apparatus, hired on several part-time employees, and had turned in the application for an intermediate ambulance license. The State approved the application and on December 1, 2006 the Saratoga Springs Fire Department began transporting patients with a newly acquired ambulance. The station started being staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with a crew of at least 3 members.

On July 5th, 2007, the department lost a great leader. Chief Penovich was killed in a tragic accident while on department business. Dawnya DeKarver became the interim Fire Chief. The City then began the process of selecting a new Chief. On October 10th, 2007, it was announced that a new Chief had been selected. Chief Tim Hay started November 5th, 2007.

In October 2009, Chief Michael James Penovich was inducted into the National Firefighter Memorial.


Full Time Employees

In November 2009, the first full-time fire department employees were hired. Three Captains and three firefighters were hired to serve 24 hours a day 7 days a week. A full-time captain, full-time firefighter and two part-time firefighters covered the City. Full-time staff at that time; Captains Jerry Lund, Dawnya Dekarver, Steve Chaffin, and FF's Blaine Coombs, Tyson Frazier and Darren Wright.


Second Fire Station

In May 2010, the Fire Department expanded to two stations. The second station located at 2015 S Ring Road serves the southern half of the City. Full-time and part-time staff members man this station 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Located at this station was a small Jet Boat for Lake and water rescue. This was in an effort to reduce the time it takes to get a rescue boat and personnel from Provo Boat Harbor or Utah County Search and Rescue. These resources are up to 40 minutes away or more. The water craft was also available for rescues on the Jordan River as well.

In August 2010, Chief Hay left the City of Saratoga Springs for a Chief position at the department he first served as a firefighter. He left the City with a completed All Hazards Response plan, added six full-time personnel to the staff and made several changes to increased fire fighter safety. With his absence, the City appointed Captain Jerry Lund as Interim Chief and Tyson Frazier as Interim Captain in September 2010.


Population Growth

With the continued population growth of the City and emergency call volume ever increasing, in October 2010, a 5th firefighter position was added and made the staffing level at Station One to three firefighters, and two at Station Two, 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

In August 2010, the department bought two Zoll monitors purchased through a grant from American Hospital Association. This gave the EMTs the ability to monitor and transmit 12 lead electro cardio grams to nearby hospitals and bypass the nearest receiving hospital with a Cath Lab in the event the patient is having a STEMI.

In January 2011, the department added a second ambulance which responds out of station two. The department has a fire engine and ambulance at each station to reduce response times for the citizens of Saratoga Springs.

On August 15, 2011, Saratoga Springs Fire Department was issued a Paramedic Ambulance / Rescue license.


Leadership

On September 8th, 2011, the City of Saratoga Springs appointed a new Fire Chief, Jess Campbell. Chief Campbell comes to the City after nearly 24 years of service with Las Vegas Fire and Rescue, where he retired as the Assistant Fire Chief.

Under his leadership, Chief Campbell brought a tremendous vision for the department and since his appointment has taken the department from humble and hard fought beginning to one of the premiere agencies in the State of Utah. Saratoga Springs Fire Department in name, was changed to Saratoga Springs Fire and Rescue to appropriately reflect the true demands and expectations of this now very dynamic agency.

In a General Staff meeting in April of 2012, Chief Campbell revealed his plan for raising the bar for both the personnel and our overall service to our constituents. It included a much higher level of training, both in frequency and levels of training. Requisite physical fitness became part of the daily routine of all firefighters, whether full or part-time.

In July of 2013, Chief Campbell demonstrated the need to purchase a Type III Fire Engine for the implementation of what has become one of the most recognized wild land programs in the Western United States. In two years of multiple deployments to California, Idaho, and Washington states, the program not only paid for the personnel but also paid the city back the initial $250,000 purchase price. The success of the program was largely due in part to Firefighter / Paramedics, Blaine Coombs and Cindy Coombs. Engine 263 is now "name requested" in the Wild Land arena...


Staffing Changes

When Chief Campbell took the helm, Saratoga Springs Fire and Rescue (SSFR) was staffed with three personnel in the south station and two in the north. SSFR now has three personnel in each station and a "jump staffing" model was implemented in January 2016. This allowed for a full fire response from either station as well as some of the best Paramedic level EMS providers in the State of Utah on two ambulances. Also, SSFR has recently moved from two full-time employees and four part-time daily to three full-time and three part-time. Captains Kenny Johnson, Jerry Lund, Tyson Frazier, FF/Medics, Blaine Coombs, Darren Wright, Cindy Coombs, Ryan Rackman, Nick McQueen, Trent Jenkins.

SSFR now bolsters it ranks and apparatus with our Special Operations response, which includes four high performance Wave Runners that are offered via a special grant from Yamaha for water rescue. A cache of top of the line ice rescue gear, as well as a cache of ropes gear and a Ranger OTR vehicle for back country rescue. SSFR has now become one of the leaders in water and ice rescue in the state. In March of 2015, SSFR was recognized at the Governors Safety Summit for its efforts and extraordinary efforts in standards and training in the two disciplines. This is largely due in part to Captain Tyson Frazier and Firefighter Jake Beck (Jake Beck is a Captain for Lehi Fire Department full-time).

Saratoga Springs Fire and Rescue continues to be the lead with respect to standards and training levels in the industry and in the region. Saratoga Springs Fire and Rescue now responds to over 1100 emergent 911 calls for service and faces some of the most complex calls for service along the entire Wasatch Front. "It will always be our mission and goal to provide the highest level of customer service through holding ourselves accountable to those we have the honor to serve!" Fire Chief Jess L. Campbell - Saratoga Springs Fire and Rescue.