Last month and this month structure fires occurred in The Valley to which firefighters from the Waitsfield-Fayston Volunteer Fire Department, the Moretown Volunteer Fire Department and the Warren Volunteer Fire Department responded.

Fred Viens’ shop and garage on North Fayston Road burned to the ground in December, and the home of John and Barbara King on Center Fayston Road burned this week on January 17, tragically killing John King.

In both of these fires, the tanker trucks from the three fire departments were able to quickly refill using a fire hydrant located near Tremblay Road. The pressured hydrant can fill Waitsfield’s 3,000-gallon tanker in 3.5 minutes.

Waitsfield and Fayston share a fire department with Fayston covering 40 percent of the costs of the shared fire department.

The Waitsfield Select Board and town water commission recently came to an agreement on how the town would pay for its share of the costs of fire protection, which came with the municipal water system. The $1.2 million fire protection costs include the hydrants, new routing, larger pipes for the hydrants and a larger tank to hold the water.

Up until now, only water system users have been paying for the $8 million water system, including fire protection costs, which benefit all Waitsfield taxpayers. Sharing fire protection costs with all taxpayers will add $28,820 to the town’s budget.

As has been demonstrated twice in two months, access to highly pressurized water is critical to filling tankers and fighting fires. That benefit extends from the southern end of the water system service area at the Eagles Resort to the northern end near Tremblay Road. In the winter when ponds and rivers are iced over, the ability to fill a tanker quickly – especially when multiple departments are involved – will impact outcomes.

It seems only logical that the town of Fayston, which adjoins Waitsfield all along the service area, would and should be asked to help share in the $28,820 cost of making those hydrants and that water available when it is needed. The volunteers who staff the Waitsfield-Fayston Volunteer Fire Department are a shared resource that serves residents of both towns.

The water, too, is a shared resource.