Tulsa Radio Personality Becomes Volunteer Firefighter Amid State Shortage
WAGONER COUNTY, Oklahoma - There's a desperate need for volunteer firefighters across Green Country. According to the Oklahoma State Firefighters Association volunteers are down 30 percent.
Imagine being in a car crash or your house is on fire and having to wait up to 40 minutes for help. That's what it would look like without the volunteer firefighters outside of Tulsa.
Each time Flat Rock Fire Chief Dwayne Givens pulls out of his fire station he hopes he has enough volunteer firefighters on hand.
"I'm always looking for help," said Chief Givens. Right now he has 13 volunteers a number he wishes was twice as high.
"When you realize you've got to grab everybody that you can get from the area that you live in and that area you live in is pretty sparsely populated."
Givens has been running emergency calls here for 11 years. In that time he's seen as many as 16 volunteers and as little as 8. Some of the challenges include the lack of pay and the difficult training.
"A lot of physical stuff you have to carry somebody up a ladder. break into stuff, a lot of book reading and a lot of test taking," says volunteer Kelly Bussell.
Bussell is a face and a voice you may recognize. After working in radio for nearly 30 years in Tulsa she felt in her heart it was time to try something new and joined her husband in volunteering at Flat Rock Fire.
"I feel like I've joked around my whole life in radio and now it's like I want to do something a little more meaningful and help people," she said.
That's music to the chief's ears who is calling on more volunteers. He says men and women alike are always welcome on his team.
"If you look at a rural volunteer fire department you're gonna have a good mix. There are a lot of female volunteer firefighters and there are a lot of good ones, really good ones,” said Chief Givens.
If you're interested in more information about volunteering there is a fish fry at the department Saturday from 4-7p.m.