Tulsa City Councilors Try On Firefighting

Monday, June 6th 2016, 1:19 pm
By: Amy Slanchik

Monday, some Tulsa city councilors got the chance to live a day in the life of a Tulsa firefighter, with a taste of the training they go through.

Soon, there will be dozens in training to become actual firefighters, thanks to the Vision sales tax.

The fire department said its goal is to always have four firefighters on a truck, but, right now, they often find themselves at the scene of a fire with only three.

A few city councilors switched up their role for the city Monday, embracing not just the heat outside of their offices, but the flames at the Tulsa Fire Safety Training Center.

“So what you guys are going to be doing today is what typically two firefighters on the Tulsa department do," they told the councilors.

Training Chief Bryan Lloyd said the experience gives them a glimpse of what their work is like.

"The main thing that shocks them is just how taxing it is, physically, once you get all the gear on," he said.

The gear is about 65 pounds; and in a few years, there will be 65 more firefighters carrying around that extra weight.

"We've got a need for the 65 new ones," said Captain Stan Man.

The city will start collecting the new Vision sales tax money the first of next year and the department will be able to put 20 new firefighters through the academy.

The department plans to have two academy classes a year to get the 65 new firefighters.

Lloyd said, "Once they graduate from the academy, which is roughly six months long, they have six months to complete certain tasks before they become a full-fledged member of the department."

That could take two-and-a-half to three years.

May said they can't start fast enough. They're short 28 firefighters right now - the reason many trucks only have three firefighters instead of four.

"You'll see an uptick injuries also when you start running three persons to a truck instead of four, quite a bit of cost to the city," May said.

The fire department will find out in a week or two if they will receive a nearly $3 million federal grant, that’s apart from the money they’ll get from the Vision sales tax.

That money would pay for 27 new firefighters, but the department said it still needs the additional 65.