Garage for Greystone mulled

Committee to seek grants to improve fire response

Residents in Greystone live at a higher risk of wildfire damage than almost any other community in Moffat County.

Yet Greystone lacks the infrastructure for emergency responders to always quickly answer emergency calls.

But a newly assembled committee is working to improve emergency preparedness in the rural community. They hope to build a garage for fire trucks and housing for a Moffat County Sheriff's deputy.

The project is still in its infancy, but some of the initial committee members began laying out a strategy for making it a reality at Tuesday's Moffat County Commissioners' meeting.

"This is a viable project to go forward on, and maybe we as a committee could get together to get a needs assessment and see what grants are out there," Moffat County Sheriff Buddy Grinstead said.

A Greystone resident has offered to donate land on which the county could build the garage and housing. He has requested that the building be no more than one story tall.

The commissioners and Grinstead expect that all other expenses can be covered through grants.

Tom Burton, who lives in Greystone about 100 days a year, said the community already has a fire department of sorts, it just isn't official.

Burton stores 3,500 gallons of water that could be used to fight fire. His neighbors also store water. Fire trucks and pumps are stored throughout the community. Burton describes it as a "make-do situation."

"To all of us, it's real important to pull this off," Burton said of the plans.

The sheriff is responsible for fighting fire on private property outside the Craig Rural Fire Protection District. The Sheriff already has one fire truck stationed at Greystone. But no deputies are stationed in the area.

The deputy who would be stationed in Greystone would be taken from the sheriff's pool of deputies. He would be trained as an emergency medical technician so he could respond to accidents. Maybell Ambulance Service's secondary ambulance may even be stationed at the proposed building.

"If there was a need and desire to have that there, it could go to Greystone and maybe act as a first responder there," Commissioner Darryl Steele said.

The Bureau of Land Management regularly drives between Craig and Greystone during fire season, said Dale Skidmore, fire management officer for the Greystone.

Having vehicles and possibly firefighters stationed in Greystone would save the BLM vehicle mileage, gas and time, which is an important factor when fighting fire.

Aside from the commissioners, the sheriff, the BLM and Burton, other Greystone residents and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service representatives will be on the committee. They will determine the emergency needs that exist in Greystone, which will determine the size of the building needed.

Steele suggested that Greystone form a volunteer fire department or similar organization. This would make it easier to obtain grants for the work, he said.

"You need an organization, whatever you would call it, so we have an organization we can work through to get grants. If you don't have an organization, it looks like the community you're trying to protect isn't interested and you don't get the grant," Steele said.

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