Draper City is very fortunate to have one of the finest local police departments in the state. We have dedicated officers that serve us well. Our police department is ours. It is funded and operated by Draper City. Local control means problems are much easier to fix and creative solutions are much easier to implement.
When I was first elected to the Draper City Council in 2007, Councilman Summerhays and I started discussing the idea of Draper creating its own fire department. Every year, as the cost of our contract increased I talked with the city manager, city attorney, and other council members about our options.
When I was elected Mayor in 2013 and I sat on the UFA board, the need for Draper to become independent was even more apparent. It was obvious to me that a city of our size should be more than 1 seat out of 17. The writing on the wall was clear to me as pressure increased to join the Fire Service District, which would’ve added millions to our citizens property taxes. In 2016, after years of research, study, and discussions with our great city manager I approached the city council (since they are the only ones that can make decisions) about creating the Draper City Fire Department, and I was very pleased that it passed 4-1 (with Councilwoman Weeks being the lone ‘no’ vote).
Once we were out of UFA, the work really began. We had one year to start our new fire from the ground up. I went to work and I quickly found an outstanding fire chief. I appointed Chief Clint Smith to the job on September 20, 2017. Clint is the son of our former great Mayor Darrell and Launi Smith and was born and raised in Draper. Not only does he truly care about Draper, he is also a highly trained and respected firefighter/paramedic with a track record of successful leadership. Clint went to work and has staffed and equipped our new Draper City Fire Department. We officially started July 1, 2017.
Why do it?
First, local control. Now, just like with our police department, we have a fire department that works exclusively for Draper City and meets our specific needs. We now have a crew of 40, where 100% of their time and efforts are focused on protecting and taking care of our great residents.
Second, cost control. Now we will actually completely control our costs because we will set our budget. We are also receiving 100% of the ambulance revenue to put back toward our amazing public safety services.
Third, community engagement. Now our fire department is ours. It will respond to our specific needs and weave itself into our great city.
It took leadership to make this happen. Many people told me we would fail and that we would never be able to pull it off. They said no one would want to work for us. When we posted our firefighter jobs we had over 400 applicants for 40 positions! A handful of people, including a few UFA firefighters, Councilwoman Weeks and other politicians fought me on the move. At times it was a heated battle. It took tenacity and vision. We are on the cusp of launching what will be an outstanding fire department.
I know how to solve problems. I know how to think outside the box and I am not afraid to make hard decisions and fight for what makes sense for our city. I understand what it takes to lead. I can take criticism. I know how to stick to my guns on any issue I believe in. This was the best coarse of action for the future of Draper and her residents. I’m proud to have lead the effort and I know it will be a great asset of Draper for years to come.