A new $27,000 contract from the Utah County Commission has given the North Fork Fire Department in Provo Canyon comes as a windfall for the strapped department.

"We've been operating on a shoestring for 15 years," said Fire Chief Bert Thomas. "We haven't been able to get any of the tax money collected by the county."Thomas said the department - boasting four trucks and 30 volunteer firefighters - has been operating with some money from the North Fork Special Service District, plus a fire fee homeowners pay along with their water bills.

Until now, Utah County has contracted with Provo and Orem to provide fire protection in North Fork, but the revised contracts with Provo and Orem, signed last week, remove the North Fork from those departments' coverage and give it to the North Fork department.

Thomas said the $27,000 will be spent quickly on a brush truck with a water tank to provide faster response to smaller fires.