The Mountain Times

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No merger for rescue groups, but mutual aid protocol established

KILLINGTON - Issues between the Killington Volunteer Fire Department and the independent organization now called Killington Mountain Rescue appear to have been ironed out.
The two groups had been wrangling over who has the right to use the name, "Killington Search and Rescue" (KSAR) and to what extent they would be a joined force. What is now Killington Mountain Rescue had been using the name, and at one point had offered to formally become part of the Volunteer Fire Department. But after reviewing the membership requirements to do so, many KMR crew withdrew their support of that.
Monday, Nov. 25, the Killington Police organized a meeting at the State Police Barraks in Rutland with a number of emergency service agencies, including the Vermont State Police, Civil Air Patrol, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, the Rutland City Fire Department and state dispatch, among others, held a meeting to work out their plans for the upcoming winter season. Fire Chief Gary Roth said that KMR had also attended, and although they (KMR) would be a separate entity, they would be working with the fire department this winter on emergencies.
Former Killington Deputy Chief of Police Robert Giolito said the intention of the meeting was to get the departments working together.
"The idea was to get everyone on the same page and let bygones be bygones," Giolito said. "Unfortunately, as a result, I had to resign as deputy chief... it created a conflict of interest."
Giolito said that Killington Mountain Rescue would be operating under the aegis of the Civil Air Patrol.
"We had a good meeting and decided how to handle the calls," Roth said.
Steve Finer, former Killington fire chief and now corporate president, said the groups had worked out a mutual aid system. "Things expand and contract depending on the type of emergency," he said. "Nobody was upset at the meeting."
"We offered all the services we have," Roth said. "If anybody needs our people and equipment, we're there." The need for an area rescue crew was never debated, but who and how such organization should be formed, financed and lead has been a hot topic over the past several months.
On background about the discussions to become a town entity, Killington Town Manager Seth Webb explained "Killington Search and Rescue initially came to the town requesting the Selectboard consider incorporating KSAR as an official function of the Town," referring KMR head Robert Giolito's crew of backcountry experts. "They requested to become a town entity. After looking at the request, based on its requirements, need for equipment, and synergy with the fire department, the board of selectmen recommended that KSAR (KMR) look at the feasibility of incorporating with the Fire Department."
That led to a series of discussions, which, Webb said, led to KMR deciding to become its own organization.
For their part, according to Giolito in a previous interview, the membership objected to having its name trademarked by the Killington Volunteer Fire Department, and some of the requirements needed to join the fire department. The fire department registered the trade name "Killington Search & Rescue" with the state in 2012. The department, in a letter to Webb signed by Roth and Finer, set forth its membership requirements:
"1. Complete a Killington Fire and Rescue form (same requirement as Fire)," the letter read. "2. Successfully complete a 6-month probationary period same requirement as Fire). 3. Throughout probation period meet current KSAR guidelines and membership and requirements (Adjusted for Backcountry team) 4. Attend 25 percent of KSAR drills, 25 percent of KF&R drills, and 25 percent of backcountry calls (Adjusted for members of Backcountry team) 5. Members of Backcountry team may live a distance that is feasible for response as decided h the KSAR team leaders (Adjusted from our mutual aid area to better meet the needs of KSAR. After the 6-month probationary period, candidates will be voted on and, once accepted will become full voting members of Killington Fire and Rescue."
According to the Vermont Secretary of State's office, the trade name "Killington Mountain Rescue" was registered earlier this year, on Sept. 13, and describes its function as "civic, search and rescue." Giolito is listed as the registered agent.