State officials announced Friday the distribution of more than $3.8 million in operational grant funds to 863 rural fire departments across the state.
Since Aug. 3, more than 111,600 acres have burned in fires across the state, according to the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management’s latest situation update released at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
The National Weather Service’s forecast for the Edmond area includes a break from the extreme heat on Friday followed by a high near 99 on Saturday and highs at or above 100 degrees through Wednesday. Rain chances remain low, with only a 20 percent possibility on Sunday.
Oklahoma Forestry Services reports that in central Oklahoma the Cushing fire has burned 1,578 acres, the Glencoe fire 6,887 acres, the Luther fire 2,621 acres and the Norman-Noble-Slaughterville fire 8,928 acres. Fires were also reported in Blaine, Caddo, Comanche, Kiowa, Creek, McClain, Okmulgee, Pittsburg, Pottawatomie and Grady counties.
The Oklahoma state medical examiner reports one fatality attributed to the Norman fire. Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office investigators are seeking clues in the cause of the Luther fire.
Funded by the Oklahoma Legislature and authorized by Fallin, these grants assist departments located in communities with a population of less than 10,000 people and can be used for a range of needs.
“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. We support our firefighters 100 percent and stand behind them as they work to protect Oklahoma families and communities from the threat of wildfires.”
Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese said Oklahoma’s leaders recognize the importance of rural fire departments. The grants come as fire departments have depleted many resources during the current fire season, Reese said.
Officials said funds can be used for the operations and maintenance of the fire department 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,” Reese said. “We are committed to helping local fire departments with limited budgets effectively perform their duties.”
Oklahoma Forestry Services also provides equipment and technical advice through the Rural Fire Defense Program for use in wildfire suppression efforts. More than $17 million in equipment was distributed to fire departments in 2011.
State Forester George Geissler said the property can be a viable alternative to buying new equipment. The state also offers firefighting supplies at cost to rural fire departments across the state.
“By buying many items in bulk quantities and at lower cost, smaller departments receive volume discount savings,” Geissler said.
For more information concerning Operational Grants, Rural Fire Defense or other ODAFF-Forestry Services programs visit www.forestry.ok.gov/rural-fire or call 288-2385.
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