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Tulsa Fire Department dealing with city's budget shortfall

Updated:
The Tulsa Fire Department held graduation ceremonies Friday for its latest group of cadets. But they will be the last new firefighters for a while. That's because of the city's budget crunch.

News on Six reporter Steve Berg says right now the city has enough firefighters, but they don't have a lot of money. So they've delayed the start of the next academy by about four months. They say the eager cadets had this day marked on their calendar for months. But the next group is going to have to wait a little longer.

Tulsa Fire Chief Allen Lacroix, "I'm sure it's extremely difficult but they understand, they'll still have a job, it's just a couple of months down the road." The next academy was due to start in May, but instead is delayed until September.

The fire department, like all city departments, has been asked to come up with a worst-case scenario as they prepare to make cuts. New Fire Chief Allen Lacroix says they can move around some personnel, but 10% is likely the limit. "Any budget cut greater than 10% will have a significant impact on our ability to deliver fire service and EMS to this community."

Incoming Mayor Bill LaFortune isn't ready to talk exact numbers until he sees the budget information from the current administration. "Once I have a chance to look those over, I'll know more, but at this point again you just have to prioritize and to me, Police and Fire are number one on my list."

The Fire Department says the only thing they have to worry about is if they have a bunch of unexpected early retirements. If that happens, they say staffing could get tricky until the next class graduates.
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