Cottonwood Heights Firefighters: “A Cut Above”

Cottonwood Heights Firefighters: “A Cut Above”
Posted on 02/01/2019

By Mayor Mike Peterson

Many years ago, as the Director of the Cottonwood Heights Parks and Recreation Service Area, I thought it was interesting that Fire Station 116 was located adjacent to the Recreation Center. It didn’t take me long to appreciate how lucky the Recreation Center was to have the firefighter paramedics adjacent to our facility.

With the tens of thousands of visitors to the Recreation Center each year, I became keenly aware of the importance of our firefighter paramedics when there was an emergency. Over the years, I witnessed hundreds of visits to the Recreation Center by the paramedics as they cared for our residents in medical emergencies — whether it was a severe laceration to the leg of a figure skater trying to complete a difficult jump, a young person jumping off the diving platforms and hitting the water wrong and feeling numbness in their legs, a heart attack from overdoing it on the racquetball court, or someone falling while playing pickleball or basketball in the gymnasium and sustaining a serious injury. In every case, our firefighter paramedics were on the scene in a matter of minutes.

It was a few years later as a member of the City Council that I was provided the opportunity to attend a one-day fire school, sponsored by the Unified Fire Authority, to personally gain a greater understanding of the many challenges facing our firefighters when they respond to a wide range of public safety-related incidents. In the training, we experienced cutting open a vehicle with the “jaws of life” to extract a victim from a severely damaged vehicle. We learned how to exit a smoke-filled building crawling on our knees without vision by following fire hoses on the ground until we reached safety. We climbed a 100-foot rescue ladder in near-freezing temperatures in full fire gear, located people in a simulated burning building and brought them to safety, put out intense fires with high-pressure hoses while wearing full fire gear including a respirator, and much more. This experience greatly added to my appreciation and understanding of the importance and ability of our firefighter/paramedics.

Over the years, as a member of the City Council and since becoming Mayor, my appreciation for our Cottonwood Heights’ firefighter/paramedics has continued to grow as I’ve become even more aware of their efforts as they serve our citizens. I think back to when we had the field fire at Crestwood Park nature area that could have been disastrous if not checked in time, or on the Fourth of July two years ago when fireworks started a brush fire in the open space near Bywater Park that burned several acres and severely damaged one home. Then this past year, with two separate fires in an apartment complex and several house fires, my gratitude for their efforts increased once again. In the end, I so appreciate the fact that none of these fires resulted in the loss of life.

In addition, our firefighters are actively involved in our community by working collaboratively with selected groups to minimize fuels that could increase the chance of brush fires and supporting many community events such as the Cottonwood Heights Easter Egg Hunt, Butlerville Days and our Thanksgiving 5K. They also deliver public safety messages through the Cottonwood Heights Newsletter and other community publications, host and support numerous fire station tours and neighborhood activities, and at the same time are always prepared to respond to the daily emergencies that face our city and its residents.

I asked our Assistant Fire Chief, Mike Watson, what makes him most proud to be a firefighter.

“There are so many things,” he said. “I love helping others and especially have enjoyed helping mitigate medical and fire emergencies. This profession demands our very best because that is what our citizens deserve.” I also asked him why he believes most firefighters select this as a profession. “The same reasons that steered me to this profession: A true desire to help others when they are in need, the many different specialties, such as engineer, paramedic, heavy rescue tech, or code enforcement, and serving as a mentor or leader. We love interacting with the public.”

Our firefighters, who are part of the Unified Fire Authority, are truly dedicated professionals. Under the direction of Fire Chief Dan Petersen and Assistant Fire Chief Mike Watson, this group is constantly being trained in all areas of professional development to better serve our city. Last year, Station 116 (8303 S. Wasatch Blvd.) and Station 110 (1790 E. Fort Union Blvd.) responded to more than 1,700 medicals calls combined and more than 450 fire calls. This was accomplished by a committed and professional group of firefighters who pride themselves on being “a cut above” and with a goal of responding to all calls within a four-minute drive time. Thank you, UFA, and more importantly, thank you Stations 110 and 116 for your dedicated service to the City of Cottonwood Heights.