Volunteer fire dept. closed after trucks failed to start in fatal fire

The department was shut down because the city did not have the money to replace the old equipment and the aging fire station

By FireRescue1 Staff

SUNSET, Utah — City council voted to close a volunteer fire department months after their fire trucks did not start in a fire that killed two people.

KUTV reported that a neighbor called 911 when John and Nada Nicholas’ home caught on fire. The Sunset City fire station is a block and a half away from the house, but firefighters were delayed because they could not get the trucks to start.

“That did happen, the fire truck didn’t start, but as we know we can walk out to our own cars every day and turn the key and it not start, it's just one of those fluke things,” former Sunset City councilman Kevin Snow said.

The couple died in the fire despite several other agencies responding to the blaze, including the Sunset volunteer firefighters who jumped in an ambulance.

“My first response was ‘why?’ what happened, what went down?,” Sunset City councilman Chad Bangeter said.

Months later, the volunteer department was shut down because the city did not have the money to replace the old equipment and the aging fire station.

“If Sunset was different, we would be looking at a different scenario, but we’re not,” Bangeter said. “Did we have the best equipment? No. We couldn’t afford the best.”

The firefighters disagree, and said the city withheld funds.

“I wouldn't say the city was unable to fund for new equipment or maintenance. It was more of chosen to neglect listening to the fire chiefs that requested funds,” former interim Chief Anthony Bott said.

Firefighters said equipment trouble was a consistent occurrence in the department, and maintenance records show several instances of failed apparatus on calls.

Snow and other supporters are fighting to reinstate the department.

“I want them to bring it back, just the way it was, and then let the citizens decide. If the citizens don’t want the fire department, then that’s fine, we can live with that,” Snow said.

A petition organized by firefighters was certified by the city, who said they are preparing a response.

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