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Norman Fire Chief Responds To Council's Public Shelter Vote

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Norman Fire Chief James Fullingim said the city council made the right move and the new policy should actually keep the public safer during bad storms. Norman Fire Chief James Fullingim said the city council made the right move and the new policy should actually keep the public safer during bad storms.
NORMAN, Oklahoma -

The Norman City Council voted to stop opening up public buildings specifically for storm shelters during severe weather events, after years of discussion.

The city's fire chief James Fullingim said it was the right move and should actually keep the public safer during bad storms.

Public buildings that are already open during severe weather will not be closed, according to Fullingim. He explained that the city would stop using resources to open up extra space. The buildings that have been opened in the past were not protecting people as much as they might have thought.

10/9/2013 Related Story: Norman City Council Votes To Close Public Buildings As Storm Shelters

"A lot of it had to do with the misconception that these buildings were safer than their homes. So the residents of Norman for many years went to these storm shelters with a false sense of security that these buildings were actually stronger than the homes they were leaving," explained Chief Fullingim.

"We actually did a survey of the areas that we were using. In most cases they were not a sturdy as a residential house."

Fullingim told News 9 that people often decided to hit the road and take shelter far too late, clogging up roadways and making it hard for people to actually get to the places they were heading to.

The city would actually send resources out to open up places like the Irving Rec Center, Whittier Rec Center, Cleveland Elementary and Little Axe High. From now on, those buildings won't be opened up, according to the chief.

Fullingim said it was imperative that families start coming up with plans to seek shelter ahead of the next storm season. He said resources have been made available through the fire department for anyone who has needed help coming up with a plan. He also said NFD has done outreach to every mobile home community to make sure residents there know what to do to stay safe.

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