Firefighters: $2.7M Grant Not Only Good For Department, But All Of Tulsa

Friday, August 12th 2016, 6:05 pm
By: News On 6

FEMA selected the Tulsa Fire Department to receive a nearly $3 million grant to pay for the salaries of 27 new firefighters.

Firefighters say the grant and new hires isn’t just good for them, but for all of Tulsa.

Right now, firefighters have to worker longer and harder hours, but this will allow them to work fires and medical emergencies faster.

Coming to the Tulsa Fire Department Training Center becomes routine for Tulsa firefighters after getting hired - but some never get the chance.

"Whenever I got the phone call it was very exciting because it's a dream I had for a long time - since I was a child," firefighter Wyatt Lowe said.

Lowe joined the department five years ago, with 50 firefighters, thanks to an over $4 million federal grant. Now, the same grant has been awarded again - giving the department $2.7 million to hire 27 firefighters within 90 days.

8/12/2016 Related Story: Tulsa To Hire 27 New Firefighters Thanks To $2.7M FEMA Grant

"I think, a lot of times, we lose good employees to smaller departments, or other departments because they have to wait so long to go through our process," Lowe said.

The grant couldn't have come at a better time.

Right now, the fire department is down 35 firefighters, forcing many to work mandatory overtime, stretching shifts from 24 to 48 hours straight.

Lowe said, "Christmas, Thanksgiving, those big days like that, there have been times firefighters have been told they couldn't go home and see their family that day because they had to stay at work."

Not to mention the exhaustion that sets in while battling fires, which can lead to injuries.

The SAFER grant will pay for training and the salaries of the 27 firefighters for two years; that translates into major savings for the city.

Captain Stan May said, "Both for the wages and the injuries, because injuries really go up when you only have three on a truck, and that's where we are right now.”

The grant means there will now be back to back academies. The fire department is already in the process of interviewing candidates for an academy that was scheduled to start early next year, so, some may be hired even sooner than they thought.