Unified Fire Authority (UFA) provides fire protection, emergency medical services and other emergency responses for Alta, Copperton Township, Cottonwood Heights, Eagle Mountain, Emigration Canyon Township, Herriman, Holladay, Kearns Township, Magna Township, Midvale, Riverton, Taylorsville, White City Township and the Unincorporated Areas of Salt Lake County. Unified Fire Authority was formally Salt Lake County Fire Department until forming the UFA in 2004. UFA is the largest fire department in the state of Utah with an operating budget around $65 million in 2014. UFA Headquarters are located at 3380 South 900 West, in Salt Lake County.
On November 21, 1921 Salt Lake County Fire Department was formed under the direction of Chief Albert Marriott. Throughout the department’s history, members have worked to enhance fire service and improve service delivery to the residents of the Salt Lake Valley. The department was instrumental in helping with the development and design of the first water carrying engines to be used in the Midwest while also addressing the need for rapid transport to the hospital and starting an ambulance service. Salt Lake County Fire continued to grow morph and solidify through the decades. During the 1970’s the department certified all employees as EMT’s. A few years later, the department participated in some of the first Paramedic training offered to Utah Firefighters by sending nine Firefighters to Los Angeles, helping pioneer the Paramedic program for the State of Utah. UFA has since created its own Paramedic School that is one of only a few fire department based medic schools in the county. Over the next several years, the department started to create specialized response teams such as HazMat, Heavy Rescue and Wildland Teams.
Discussions for the formation of a unified fire department within the Salt Lake Valley began in 1998. For many years, Salt Lake County Fire provided emergency services to several contract cities in addition to the Unincorporated Salt Lake County. While each city appreciated the service delivery of the County Fire Department and wanted to move forward with the relationship, they also recognized some problems with that relationship. There was no direct avenue for the elected officials of their respective cities to vote on current issues or budget proposals. Also, changes in the service package for one city might affect another city detrimentally. These points, along with administrative concerns for the ability to develop and carry out long term planning added to the need to move the department in a different direction.
In September 2003, each of the respective mayors came together, with the voting approval of their councils, and signed a 50-year agreement creating the Unified Fire Authority. In 2004, the Fire Department ceased operation as a County government entity and became the Unified Fire Authority (UFA), a quasi-governmental organization. At the same time, Salt Lake County leaders worked within the Utah State Legislature to make changes to laws regarding the creation of a Fire District. Once the legal issues were resolved, the County Council took steps to create a fire district for the Unincorporated areas of the County. Unified Fire Service Area (UFSA) was formed, and quickly joined the UFA. The UFSA is a Special Service Area that pays for its services with a property tax. Entities belonging to the UFA may choose whether to pay for services through their own funding or may choose to join the UFSA. Regardless of how an entity joins, they are an owner of the UFA. As an owner of the UFA, members have authority over the budget and local control over the agency.
Today, Unified Fire Authority serves over 400,000 residents in the Greater Salt Lake Area. UFA operates under the direction of the UFA Board of Directors. These board members are directly appointed by the agency they represent giving the agency local control. The Fire Chief serves as the Chief Executive Officer and is the highest-ranking officer at Unified Fire. The Assistant Chief's are second in command and oversees all the day-to-day operations of Unified Fire Authority.
UFA responds to over 30,000 calls per year responding from 25 fire stations throughout the valley as well as four other facilities including the Salt Lake County Emergency Operations Center. UFA is also a co-sponsor of Utah Task Force 1, one of 28 FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Teams. Other services provided include a Bomb Squad, a Wildland Fire Division, Water Rescue, Heavy Rescue and Hazardous Materials response. All of these services are accomplished with over 600 dedicated professionals with a variety of skills and experience.