Castle Valley Comments
March 6, 2014
by Ron Drake
Mar 06, 2014 | 1144 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Castle Valley Fire Department is sponsoring a wildland fire certification class that will begin Monday March 10 at 6 p.m. at the fire station located on the Castleton Road. The informative class will provide important information for everyone living in an urban interface area like Castle Valley and will cover a multitude of subjects about fire behavior.

The 40-hour course is actually designed to provide the entry-level firefighter with knowledge and skill sets to recognize the primary factors affecting the start and spread of wildfire, potentially hazardous situations, and basic tool and line construction skills. The classes will be taught by County Fire Warden Mark Marcum under the authority of the Utah Fire and Rescue Academy, a division of Utah State University. There is no charge for the course and it is available to anyone who would like to learn these skills but not necessarily wants to be a fire department member.

The course will be held on Mondays and Thursdays from 6 to 10 p.m. until April 10. Upon completion, participants will be eligible to receive certification as a Wildland Firefighter I if they desire. Contact Fire Chief Ron Drake at 435-259-8588 or 435-259-3655 for more information or to register.

The fire department is also maintaining a web site to help residents and department members stay abreast of meetings and other activities. The site includes the fire department training schedule, a list of the volunteer members, and commissioners as well as a photo gallery, map of the district and a contact list. You will also find links to other fire agencies and helpful information about winter fire safety. The links will change as the fire season changes and it will be designed to provide information and hints about fire safety. Susan Halliday has generously donated her time to set up and maintain the Castle Valley Fire Department web site.

The fire department recently purchased a satellite phone to be used when all other forms of communication fail in the valley and along the river corridor, especially within the fire district. If the community experiences a power failure and the phones also go out – which has happened in the past – the department’s radio communication with the outside world could also be affected.

The radio repeaters on the La Sal Mountains depend on electricity to function and they could be out of service during power outages until emergency measures are put into place. The satellite phone is to be used in those situations where other communication methods are not available. A Castle Valley resident in need of emergency communication during those situations can contact a fire department member to use the satellite phone. At other times, there is a phone at the town hall, which can be used for 911 or local calls to Castle Valley or Moab phone numbers.


Last week, Rick and Eileen Wolcott returned to their Castle Valley home after a seven-week trip visiting beautiful and diverse locations of the warm regions of the southwestern United States. As soon as they entered their home after all that time away, Rick noticed and made the comment that none of the clocks in the house were blinking, indicating that there was not a power outage while they were gone.

So we can blame Rick for the power outage that occurred just after their return Friday evening, Feb. 28 that left some of the homes in Castle Valley without electricity for nearly 10 hours. Officially, Jeff Hymas of Rocky Mountain Power said that the failure began at 5:47 p.m. and affected 587 customers in parts of Castle Valley and areas north and east of here. He said there was a fault on the power line, which was caused by the storm that night. It took several hours to find the problem because of the long electrical line the crew had to patrol. The power was restored to everyone at 3:44 a.m. the next morning.

Hymas said that the utility apologizes for the inconvenience caused by the power outage and added that they work hard to restore power as soon as possible after an outage is reported. The line crew is probably always called out during the most adverse weather conditions and at the most inconvenient time of night. I remember they were called out one time during Super Bowl Sunday when the power went out in the valley. It was inconvenient for several residents in the valley who rely on oxygen generators and had to resort to the oxygen tanks.


Thirty-five years ago this week, this column reported on the activities of the Castle Valley Fire Department. Fire Chief Dave Durrant gave the lesson that week about using all of the senses when responding to a fire. His training lesson also covered how to handle burn victims and the different degree of burns. Castle Valley Drive was still muddy with deep ruts that plagued motorists and there was still 8 to 10 inches of snow left to melt so muddy conditions were expected for two more weeks or so. The temperatures back then were about 20 degrees below what we are experiencing this week.

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