Senator Jeff Rabon, Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Regulatory Services, noted the recent wildfires that have swept across this state has prompted the Senate to boldly step forward with a plan that will help create a safer Oklahoma.
“The Senate felt like we had to step in, and put forth a plan that will give these rural fire departments the ability to continue to be the first line of defense against wildfires that threaten our homes, our churches, our businesses and our farm and ranchland.” Rabon said.
The Democratic Senator from Hugo said the Senate plan contains three planks, one of which has already won approval by the full Senate and awaits action in the House of Representatives. The three planks of the
Rural Oklahoma Fire Protection Plan include:
Senate Bill 1735, which doubles the operational grants to rural fire departments to $5,000 annually. The bill passed out the Senate two weeks ago, and still awaits action in the House.
A unique partnership with rural fire departments and the Department of Agriculture that will put more firefighting resources throughout the entire state using a pod concept.
A $7 million fund to upgrade and repair aging fire protection equipment.
“This is a comprehensive plan will allow us to devote resources now and plan ahead so that we can avoid hundreds of millions of dollars in lost homes, property and lives in the future,” Rabon (D-Hugo) said.
Rabon said the need for a comprehensive fire plan became apparent during the rash of wildfires that have swept across Oklahoma in recent months. He said it was irresponsible for the Legislature to ask rural fire
departments to operate on money raised from pie auctions and bean suppers.
“The job these rural fire departments have done over the last few months has been nothing short of heroic,” Rabon said. “They have spent countless hours away from their own families sacrificing their own safety to keep every Oklahoma family safe from these dangerous wildfires.”
Rabon said he continues to get phone calls from fire departments throughout Oklahoma asking for help.
“We should act quickly to make these fire departments whole,” the Senator said. “Our state has a responsibility to these departments and we should meet that responsibility.”