BOX ELDER COUNTY - Ellen Cook, Headliner Media Specialist, August 18, 2022
Corey Barton is used to seeing red…fire engine red.
This Willard man has spent more than 37 years driving in, riding on or working with fire engines in Box Elder County and has served as its fire marshal for nearly 10 of those years. But Barton, who also works as a battalion chief for Ogden City, is ready to put on the brakes and step down, or at least slow down where the county is concerned.
Barton plans to leave the county position this month and an open house in his honor is planned for Friday, August 19, from 1-3 p.m., at the Fire Marshal’s Office, 49 South 950 West, Brigham City.
Barton said the choice to leave the people and the position that has defined his life for so long was a difficult one, but it was time.
“Right now, I am working 85 to 100 hours a week between Ogden City and here,” he said. The county position is considered part-time, or 30 hours a week, but since fires are unpredictable task masters, that has often ballooned to many more, depending or what is going on.
“That leaves little time for fishing,” Barton said. “I have absolutely loved what I have done and what I have accomplished here in Box Elder County, it’s just time to slow down.”
Barton began his firefighting career in the county in July of 1985, as a volunteer fireman for Willard City, serving as chief there for 17 years. He continued that service even after being elected to the Willard City council, a position he held for eight years. In September of 2013, the then county fire marshal, Greg Martz, retired and Barton was brought on in a parttime capacity, as he was also employed (since 1990) with the Ogden City Fire Department.
Since that time, he has expertly juggled both positions, working two days on and four days off with Ogden and then spending the rest of his time covering Box Elder. He said he could not have done it without the help and expertise of his backup crew.
“We’ve got a pretty good system built here now,” Barton said. “We’ve got a county fire warden, which is Brad Johnson. Then we’ve got two standby wardens who take weekends, from Friday at five until Sunday at midnight, who respond to calls for fires throughout the unincorporated areas of the county. So, we have a pretty good coverage system going on. But there are several weekends when we have two or three fires or more going on at one time. When there is a big fire, it takes a lot of us out there.”
But his job goes beyond just responding to a burn or a blaze somewhere.
“When I first took over being fire marshal, we were basically just doing wildland fires and inspections. Since then, the job has become a little bit bigger. What we do now is coordinate with all 15 departments in the county and work with them. We have wildland responsibilities for all unincorporated Box Elder County, all 5,600 square miles of it. We manage all agencies throughout the county for EMS volunteer departments. We have the Park Valley and Grouse Creek ambulance and fire service. They are all part of the county. We are also part of the Central Box Elder Fire District and for the last three years I’ve been the chief over that.”
It requires a lot of road time in a county as big as Box Elder. “It’s a lot of driving,” Barton admitted. “Our Grouse Creek station is 172 miles away from my office.”
But meeting the unique needs of rural Box Elder County has been goal of his, one he feels he has been able to accomplish while wearing the fire marshal title.
“We just put in three RAWS (Remote Access Weather Station). We put one in Johnson Canyon up above Plymouth, one out on Sundown Pass in Hansel Valley and just last week we finished the one out in Grouse Creek. There were a lot of holes throughout our county that we could not get accurate weather forecasting data, which helps with our fire predictions. Those are now installed and up online, finally. It’s been a long project.”
There is also a Fuels Management crews now in place to help with mitigation and preparedness, removing potential fire fuels. “Right now, we have a big one going on out in Grouse Creek with cedar removal. That’s been a pretty big thing for us,” he said.
He feels his greatest accomplishment, on a personal level, is supplying two western Box Elder communities with some upgraded medical equipment.
“Park Valley and Grouse Creek have brand new ambulances sitting out there. Being able to help and revitalize the services out in rural Box Elder County has been big for me. When I pulled into Park Valley and Grouse Creek with new ambulances, that was amazing to me that we were able to accomplish that. We’ve been able to replace all the worn-out equipment, AEDs and cardiac monitors. Those have been “WOW” moments for me.”
He will soon turn all that over to the next fire marshal, who Barton said, will be a fulltime person, as “this position has grown so much that it really needs that.”
He said he can’t really call his departure a retirement, but more like a “weaning.”
“I’m kind of phasing myself into retirement, one step at a time, slowly. I’ve got a lot of projects that have been setting on the back burner and a lot of things to do. That is what this is about.” And then, of course, there is always that fishing to get going on.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve Box Elder County residents for the past 37 plus years,” said Barton. “I’m just humbled to be able to do that and I am really looking forward to the next chapter of my life.”