Wagoner County Businessman Fights To Keep Fire Coverage

Saturday, April 2nd 2011, 5:50 pm
By: News On 6

Emily Baucum, News On 6

WAGONER COUNTY, Oklahoma -- A group of concerned citizens is proposing an alternative to solving fire protection coverage issues in Wagoner County.

On May 15, thousands of people outside city limits will lose coverage. That's because the city of Coweta will try to cover a budget shortfall by only promising coverage to city residents. Wagoner County is suggesting two rural fire departments be formed to cover people living outside of Coweta. The stations would be staffed by volunteers.

3/25/2011 Related Story: Some Wagoner County Residents Could Lose Fire Service

Eric Svensson is the general manager of The Golf Club of Oklahoma.

"It's perfect out today. Especially in the springtime, Oklahoma is just a fabulous place to be," said Erik Svensson, The Golf Club of Oklahoma.

But with strong winds, a fun day hitting the links on this 525-acre course can easily turn deadly.

"We actually had a fire here. I think it was a month and a half ago or so," Svensson said. "We had a couple of neighbors that came by and said, 'Well, you're you have coverage now.'"

That's when Erik Svensson learned - starting May 15th, Coweta firefighters will not respond to his golf club just a few miles outside of city limits.

"What do you mean? That's a basic right," he responded.

Wagoner County's considering creating two rural fire districts to pick up the slack. Those stations would be manned by volunteers.

"I don't think that might be the best solution for us," Svensson said.

Svensson and some friends thought of an alternative. In his plan, county residents and businesses who want Coweta fire protection would pay an extra fee on their water bills.

"It could be up to $20, $25 a month. To save your life I think that's a small amount to pay," he said.

By comparison, people living inside Coweta pay about $10 a month for fire and EMS service. Svensson says the city of Coweta is open to the idea.

"We have no agenda. There's no motives here except fire coverage," said Eric Svensson, general manager of The Golf Club of Oklahoma.

So that at this golf club, the only thing on fire is a golfer's swing.

Learn more about the Wagoner County Rural Fire Protection Proposal.