A handful of Utah County leaders proved Wednesday that they can take the heat — even if just for a morning.
“I learned No. 1, I could never be a firefighter,” Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi said.
Kaufusi joined other local politicians for the Utah Fire and Rescue Academy’s Fire Ops 101, the first of what’s expected to become an annual event inviting legislators to experience what it’s like to be a firefighter. Participants suited up to try their hand at car extractions, navigating a smoky trailer and driving a firetruck simulator at the academy, located at Utah Valley University in Provo.
The exercises ended with the leaders watching firefighters put out two couches they lit on fire. Participants were able to interact with firefighters and trainers from across Utah County, including hearing a presentation about the cancer risks to first responders.
The simulator included having the participants strike a fictional child that darted in front of their truck. Kaufusi was rattled by the incident, which she said will stick with her.
Kaufusi said she does not have the physical or mental strength to be a firefighter.
“The most important thing is my appreciation and gratitude of our firefighters quadrupled after experiencing it firsthand,” she said.
She said police and fire services remain at the top of her priority list as mayor.
“It isn’t for the meek and mild to be a firefighter,” Kaufusi said. “It is the real deal.”
Wednesday’s event sprouted from the desire to have political leaders experience what it’s like to be a firefighter.
“We call them our support people,” said Dennis Goudy, the quality assurance risk management program manager at the Utah Fire and Rescue Academy.
He said the staff wanted the leaders to know what the academy does, which included delivering about 500 off-site courses between July 2018 and June 20.
“When you are in a position where you are working inside an office, you are working at the rules, the regulations of how public safety is administered without really being right there with boots on the ground to feel some of that,” Goudy said. “It is hard sometimes to go further in your knowledge base on that.”
Goudy said the best public safety officials are the ones who have experienced what it’s like to do the job. The politicians’ experience Wednesday, he said, will help them make real-world decisions.
The academy is already planning next year’s event.
“We anticipate that it will be bigger and more robust,” Goudy said. “Perhaps we’ll get more people.”
Rep. Adam Robertson, R-Pleasant Grove, came into the event wondering how the academy relates to UVU. He said he learned Wednesday how the academy travels to rural fire departments that don’t have training budgets that would allow them to send their staff to the academy in Provo.
“The academy goes to you,” Robertson said. “I think that is huge.”
Local outdoor enthusiasts will be holding a fall festival on Saturday at the popular Four Bay trail system in Payson Canyon to showcase the fall colors in the area.
The vibrant yellows, oranges and reds with sparks of lingering greenery are present throughout the treetops and plant life, and will only last a few short weeks. One such local resident, Darce Trotter, hopes to take advantage of this colorful window as an opportunity to showcase the beauty of the area this time of year — something that was evaded last fall due to the fires that took place.
“Four Bay is definitely a gem,” Trotter said. “The reason we put together a fall festival is because the leaves are changing and the temperatures are cooling. It is one of our favorite times of the year up there.”
Trotter said that he, along with many “Friends of Four Bay,” as they call themselves, would like to invite locals to see what is in their very own backyard.
“While we have a network of friends we have met up there both summer and winter — hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers, snowshoers, skiers, and winter Fat Bikers — we know a majority of our locals are not aware of Four Bay,” Trotter said. “We want this event to show off this gem of Payson to our local citizens as a year around recreation area.”
Trotter also said that he along with the trail system creator, Carey Pierce would like to hold events like these to promote responsible trail use in the area.
“Four Bay takes in Payson City, U.S. Forest Service and multiple private landowners,” Trotter said. “These individuals and organizations have a stake in the long term preservation of these precious and disappearing resources, and we want to do what we can to maintain these open spaces.”
The Four Bay Forever Fall Festival is for mountain bikers, runners and hikers, and is free to the public. Event organizers recommend that attendees use the Walker Flat Parking area by the natural gas station, just below the three-mile marker, with an alternative of the forest service gate, halfway between Walker Flat and the Maple Dell parking lot. The Maple Dell parking lot, organizers say, should only be used for entry-level cyclists and families with small children, and is a mile or more away from the Four Bay area.
“This is not a race or anything similar.” Trotter said. “Our hope is not to have 300 people show up at once and ask ‘which way do I go,’ but rather people coming at different times throughout the day. The only scheduled items are hamburgers and hot dogs at noon and a raffle at 3 p.m. This is our first try at this,and we don’t know for sure what kind of response we will get, but we’ll roll with how it turns out.”
The event is scheduled to be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
For continued updated information until the festival, go to the “#4bay4ever Friends Of Four Bay” Facebook page.
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Department of Health has confirmed the first vaping-related death in the state.
Department officials say the Salt Lake County resident was under the age of 30 and died at their residence without being hospitalized prior to their death.
Health officials and a medical examiner say the person died from a vaping-related injury and that they recently vaped THC before they died.
Officials did not identify the person who died and are not releasing further details about the person’s identity.
The state has confirmed 76 cases of vaping-related lung injuries, and another 14 potential cases are under investigation.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control confirmed more than 1,000 cases of vaping-related illness nationwide, including 19 deaths.
OGDEN — The number of visitors during the Heritage Festival in May, marking the sesquicentennial of the driving of the Golden Spike, wasn’t quite as high as boosters here had been bracing for.
Still, the numbers were impressive, officials say. An estimated 100,000 or so people visited downtown Ogden during the three days of events here on May 9, 10 and 11, bolstering business activity all around the city center.
Moreover, hotel occupancy spiked, credit card spending jumped and the event exposed Ogden and Weber County to a huge swath of people, said Sara Toliver, president and chief executive officer of Visit Ogden.
On Tuesday, five months after the activities here, Toliver and Kim Bowsher of the Ogden Downtown Alliance offered Weber County Commissioners a rundown of the impact of the three days of action. They were awaiting release of spending data that only comes out periodically before offering up their final accounting.
The Heritage Day activities at Union Station and along Historic 25th Street were part of events held statewide to mark the 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad at Promontory Summit in neighboring Box Elder County on May 10, 1869. Part of Wall Avenue in front of Union Station and Historic 25th Street between Wall and Grant avenues were closed to autos to accommodate the activities in Ogden.
In planning, officials had prepared for up to 200,000 visitors, Toliver said. Still, that only an estimated 100,000 came, including nearly 10,000 alone to the meeting of two historic steam engines at Union Station in Ogden on the first day of the event, May 9, satisfied officials here.
“The moment of truth came and we had a full street and a full downtown for those three days starting with the Steam Meet on Thursday morning,” Bowsher said.
A review of data based strictly on Visa credit card activity showed a jump for the month of May in spending in Ogden of $802,000 compared to May 2018, Toliver said.
“To see that increase in May was great,” she said. In general, month-to-month spending this year, otherwise, has held steady or dipped compared to last year, according to the Visa numbers.
What’s more, hotel occupancy in downtown Ogden surged 9.4% in May versus the same month a year before, Toliver said, with the average daily rate hotels charge increasing from around $113 to $122 in the period. Visitors, the Visa data showed, came from around the country and abroad.
“The impact to our community is the most important piece to us,” Toliver said. And anecdotal information from business operators all around the city center area, not just Historic 25th Street, indicated increased sales.
Toliver also noted all the publicity the Golden Spike events received in the media. Some 2,146 articles on the activities reached an audience of 1.18 billion people, which translates into an advertising value of some $10.9 million.
“That (public relations) value has a long-term benefit,” she said, increasing Ogden’s standing and visibility in the public eye.