On Nov. 12, 2019, voters overwhelmingly approved a public safety sales tax for Cleveland County. Part of this proposal was to provide grants for our rural fire departments to purchase badly needed fire apparatus, namely trucks and tankers.
“The voters saw the need for public safety funding in Cleveland County and approved this one-eighth percent sales tax,” said County Commissioner Harold Haralson. “Through this funding, our fire departments can now get much needed equipment.”
Rural, primarily volunteer fire departments often depend on used equipment to fight fires. Intense demand, such as the 2012 wildfires that swept through Cleveland County, can take a huge toll on aging equipment.
“The Public Safety Sales Tax grant funding is invaluable to smaller departments like Lexington,” said Travis Ary, long-time volunteer firefighter. “As a small, all volunteer department with annual average budget of $60,000 to operate, we struggle to fund improvements to equipment and apparatus. We use our equipment throughout the entire county and on a regular basis assisting other departments with grass fires, structure fires to severe storm rescue and recovery efforts with the Cleveland County Taskforce. This includes calls for assistance from across the state like the fires in NW Oklahoma most recently.”
Ary served as the Lexington Fire Chief for several years and helped educate the public prior the PSST vote on what these dollars would mean to Cleveland County fire fighters.
“Today’s cost for an apparatus runs from a $100,000 brush truck to $1 million-plus engine/ pumper. Without grants like this, the Lexington Fire Department would still be operating apparatuses from the 1980’s-1990’s with extreme wear and lots of hours,” Ary said. “Just this year, the PSST grant allowed us to purchase two used 2005 model engines replacing a 1992 engine we purchased from Midwest City, OK in 2002. This Midwest City engine has served the City of Lexington for 18 years until it finally could not pass annual pump testing without costly repairs that usually cost more than the value of the engine itself.”
Prior to serving as county commissioner, Dr. Haralson worked in the Norman Regional Hospital Emergency Room for over a decade and served in other capacities throughout the community including working with local firefighters. From 1990-2020, Haralson served as Medical Director for the City of Noble and Noble Fire/EMS Department. In that capacity, he was well aware of the need for emergency medical equipment associated with fire and medical calls.
“It’s not unusual for the fire department’s trained EMTs to arrive on a scene prior to an ambulance, especially in rural areas,” Haralson said. “Having the right equipment is key to saving lives as is the appropriate fire apparatus. When we were able to retire the jail bonds early, it gave the voters an opportunity to fund other public safety needs along with providing a funding stream for jail maintenance.”
Even Cleveland County’s larger towns and cities may lack significant funding for key firefighting equipment that could make a difference in the ability to save lives and protect property, so any Cleveland County community can benefit.
So far 22 grant requests by Cleveland County fire departments, representing $550,633, have been expended for key firefighting and lifesaving equipment.
Emergency equipment purchases so far include:• Moore Fire Department, $7,010.35 for a Paratech Vehicle Stabilization kit and Tripod Conversion Kit.• Lexington Fire Department, $16,187.00 for a Unimac Washer-Extractor and Drying Cabinet.• Little Axe Fire Department, $51,076.50 for a 2020 Dodge Ram 2500 with camper shell, emergency lighting and radio.• Little Axe Fire Department, $4,000 for traffic safety and control equipment including vests, cones, flares, signage and lights.• Little Axe Fire Department, $17,500 for 5 Zoll AED Pro First Responder Kits.• Little Axe Fire Department, $2,000 for 4 First Responder Medical Bag Kits with Stop the Bleed Kits and Breathing Accessories.• Cedar Country Fire Department, $3,870 for 4 Ventis MX4 Multi-Gas Monitors and accessories.• Cedar Country Fire Department, $10,132.68 for extrication struts and accessories.• Noble Fire Department, $25,916 for 22 sets of wildland PPE.• Slaughterville Fire Department, $117,471 for 12 self-contained breathing apparatuses with associated ancillary equipment and fit testing.• Lexington Fire Department, $11,041 to repair the primary pump of E-One Pumper.• Slaughterville Fire Department, $26,600.00 to replace two water tanks at Fire Station 2 that were damaged beyond repair in the recent winter storm.• Cedar Country Department, $19,823.00 for battery operated extrication tools.• Little Axe Fire Department, $17,500.00 for an extractor and dryer cabinet.• Little Axe Fire Department, $9,551.68 for two Hale pumps and one Storz gate valve.• Lexington Fire Department, $47,600 for two used engine/pumpers.• Cedar Country Fire Department, $30,561.23 for radio and paging equipment.• Slaughterville Fire Department, $3,350.00 for two Tait TP9400 portable radios.• Little Axe Fire Department, $16,000 for 20 sets of Level 3 turn out gear.• Cedar Country Fire Department, $16,773.05 for an extractor and dryer cabinet.• Noble Fire Department, $17,151.00 for four Zoll AEDs, two King Vision video laryngoscopes and two annual subscriptions for Remote View for Zoll heart monitors.• Noble Fire Department EMS, $79,519.21 for two Zoll Advanced Manual Monitors/Defibrillators.