Some Wagoner County Residents Could Lose Fire Service

Friday, March 25th 2011, 9:48 pm
By: News On 6

Lacie Lowry, News On 6

WAGONER COUNTY -- Thousands of Wagoner County residents could be without fire department service by the middle of May. The Coweta Fire Department wants to shrink its coverage area because of budget and manpower issues.

Larry Miller is fired up about possibly losing fire service at his home.

"You can lose your home and everything you've worked for, because it can happen quick," he said.

He's lived just outside Coweta city limits since 1982. If Coweta moves forward with its proposal to offer fire coverage only inside the city limits, he is one of nearly 4,500 residents that would be left out come May 15, 2011.

"My concern was, we're not going to have any fire protection so our insurance is going to go up," Miller said.

Down the road, Sanders Nursery capitalizes on green thumbs. But red flames could cripple the business.

"We're in a rural area, grassfires are commonplace, lots of folks have moved out to this area and fires do start," George Stunkard, Sanders Nursery, said.

The 118-acre property also falls in the proposed coverage gap.

"In Oklahoma, the way the wind blows and as dry as it is right now, it's a very big concern for all of us in this area," Stunkard said.

The city of Coweta says manpower and finances are the reasons for cutting back. One resolution is creating two rural fire districts on the east and west side of Coweta that could cover the slack.

Businesses and residents both say they don't care where the fire service comes from, as long as they are covered.

"As long as the response time is reasonable," Miller said. "You can't get somebody from Muskogee to come up and help. By the time they get here, your house is going to be burned up."

Wagoner County commissioners could only move forward with the idea of creating two new fire districts if 25 percent of the residents in each affected district sign a petition.

There's a meeting for rural residents April 7, 2011, at 7 p.m. at Coweta High School.