Vinita's Small Fire Department Receiving Big Time Money
VINITA, Oklahoma - The Vinita Fire Department is a small town station receiving big time money. More than $800,000 is being funneled into the department to continue being the heavyweight support for all of Craig County.
Compared to fighting fires, applying for grant money is much less exhilarating; but it's important, and is allowing the department to add about 20 firefighters to its crew.
Vinita firefighters are calling for help, explaining why they need this $830,000 grant.
Vinita Fire Chief Kevin Wofford said, "We have a great staff now, we need more because it does become a safety issue.
Wofford is responsible for securing the FEMA grant that is adding to his workforce.
"It's become a passion of mine to look for grants and apply for grants and to look for things and build the department and through equipment and training make our men safer," Wofford said.
The 14-person crew currently consists of eight full time firefighters and six volunteers. The money is allowing the department to pay up to 25 volunteer firefighters who can now receive insurance and can retire with pensions.
"We'll be able to compensate them for the calls that they come in on, we'll be able to compensate them for their training," said Wofford.
Vinita Mayor Pete Hiseley said, "This is going to give us an opportunity to offset some of our expenditures at the fire department and in the meantime, build our force and make it safer for our men and for the public."
In just three years, Wofford has brought in about $1.4 million in grants, resulting in new trucks, sprinklers, an exhaust removal system and an alarm system.
"Basically it was like winning the lottery," Hiseley said. "We were real happy because we knew that the support we needed for our fireman and for our city when there are fires, that this would get us the support."
Wofford said he's doing what he can to make his department stronger.
"I sleep better at night knowing that the citizens are safer and the firefighters are safer, because the more staff and trained firefighters you have on scene, the safer it is."
The grant funding will also pay for a new web site, a sign and computers for the department.