Oklahoma Legislature Grants $3.87 Million To Rural Fire Departments

Friday, August 10th 2012, 4:40 pm
By: News On 6

Rural fire agencies feeling the strain from recent wildfires are getting a little relief.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Forestry Services Division on Friday announced distribution of more than $3.87 million in grant funds to 863 rural Oklahoma fire departments, a news release said.

The grants will assist departments located in communities with a population of less than 10,000 people and can be used for a range of needs, Fallin's office said.

Last week's wildfires burned more than 171 square miles in small-town Oklahoma -- more than 110,000 acres. More than 200 homes have been lost in Creek County, and about 400 statewide.

See full coverage of Oklahoma Wildfires 

"With wildfires having devastated huge portions of the state in the last several days, many rural fire departments are low on resources and in need of help," Fallin said. "These grants will help replace broken equipment and supply firefighters with the resources they need to do their jobs safely."

In Pawnee County, fire agencies have been busy providing mutual aid to neighboring Creek County. For a small county, the hours of endless strain on the trucks have, in turn, stressed the small budgets.

Pawnee County Director of Emergency Management said in his county alone, there are nine trucks down after last week's firestorm.

"People have to realize, too, we aren't working with the fancy trucks you see in the parade. We're out there with 1984 models," Randell said.

"Between mechanical problems and just the overall duration of the fires, we are hurting. The trucks and the pumps run for hours without a break. We stop long enough to get fuel, and then we go out again. The trucks are stretched to the limits, and in a lot of cases, beyond the limits."

The grants are funded by the Oklahoma Legislature and authorized by Fallin. They are to be used for the operations and maintenance of fire departments including the purchase, construction, repair and operation of fire stations and fire equipment; firefighter training and the purchase of fuel.

"These operational grants provide valuable assistance to local fire departments in providing wildland and rural community fire protection," Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese said.

"We are committed to helping local fire departments with limited budgets effectively perform their duties."