Volunteer Firefighters Go Above And Beyond To Serve Oklahoma Communities

Tuesday, December 16th 2014, 11:34 pm
By: Tess Maune

Green Country's own are suiting up to save their communities from fires.

Volunteer firefighters are nothing new in Oklahoma, but 17 volunteers from Creek, Pawnee and Payne Counties are going above and beyond to show their dedication.

With the shake of a hand and cheers from the crowd, Captain Terry Spencer is officially a certified firefighter.

"It's a big step for me," Terry said.

Terry has been volunteering with the Olive Fire Department for 20 years. He's gone through the fire training academy before, but never completed the program until now.

This time was different for Terry who said he had a different kind of motivation this time around.

"We're pretty competitive as a family and the competitiveness came out in us," he said.

Terry wasn't the only Spencer graduating; his sons Derick and Wesley received their certificates, too.

"I showed them an old dog can still keep up with the young ones, I don't know about the new tricks yet, but showed 'em we could keep up with them," Terry said.

The ten-week program was not only academically rigorous, but also physically demanding.

It consisted of 136 hours of class time, hands-on training and testing, which proved to be no problem for the Spencer patriarch and his sons.

"I've been firefighting with him for seven years now and I've learned a lot, a lot from him and I've learned a lot from this class, and I'll tell ya what, he can hang, I'm not gonna lie, he can hang," Terry's son, Derick said.

The Olive Fire Department received a $48,250 FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant in July.

Olive then shared the wealth so firefighters with five other departments - Drumright, Bristow, Silver City, Yale and Pawnee Nation - could also benefit.

Olive Assistant Fire Chief, Jason Dobson said it's the first ever joint fire training academy.

"We're very lucky to have dedicated firefighters that want to serve their community and take the time out of their life to risk their life, and they get out of their jobs to protect the citizens that we serve," Dobson said.

In Oklahoma, all volunteer firefighters have to go through training, but they're not required to become certified.

If it weren't for the federal grant, each student would have had to pay the $2,200 fee out of pocket, though, there is no price that can be put on a father walking alongside his sons, who are following in his footsteps.

"Boy, it's something we rodeoed all our life together and I'm just proud of them" Terry said wiping tears away from eyes.

The 17 firefighters will take the holidays off then start a second fire academy in the spring, which will include hazardous materials awareness and operations, vehicle extrication, flammable gas emergencies and mayday classes.

Once those courses are complete, the firefighters will be certified advanced-level firefighters.

All classes are instructed by Oklahoma State University-Fire Service Training and some are held at Central Technology Center.