Fire Chief Ken Stoops graciously declines to be featured as a hero by himself.

“They’re all heroes — every one,” he said of his 38 volunteer firefighters.

The crew includes three female firefighters, and department secretary Jan Lamons keeps things running smoothly.

“I tell her she puts out more ‘fires’ than the rest of us,” Stoops said.

The Oak Cliff fire district north of Edmond covers about 36 square miles, from Interstate-35 on the east to Pennsylvania Ave. on the west, and from Waterloo Road on the south to Seward Road on the north.

The Oak Cliff area is growing in population quickly, Stoops said — by about nine percent each year for the past three years. The district includes vacant brush land, high-end housing developments, and everything in between.

The department went on 415 calls in 2004, most of which were medical emergencies. Oak Cliff personnel are also called out regularly for grass fires, smoke investigations and controlled burns.

Stoops estimates that about 5 percent of their total calls are house fires.

911 calls from the Oak Cliff area are dispatched through the City of Edmond’s communications center.

“It’s a great service that we really appreciate,” Stoops said. “We can’t thank them enough for that.”

Edmond firefighters are also dispatched to help with Oak Cliff fires or medical calls when the situation warrants.

The chief is proud of his local volunteers and their ability to help Oak Cliff residents during their times of need.

“When people have to call us (for a medical emergency), they’re having one of the worst days of their lives,” he said. “Our guys help them out. We take care of their medical problems and comfort them, too.

“And when it’s a grass or structure fire, we work hard to get the fire under control. I really applaud what my guys do.”

Other officers at OCFD include Asst. Chief Terry Darcy, Capt. Carol Dire, Capt. Nathan Baker, and Lt. Lowell Jenks.

Volunteer firefighters spend their “real lives” working at a variety of jobs. Stoops himself is employed at the General Motors plant in Oklahoma City.

The Oak Cliff fire station at Bryant Avenue and Simmons Road houses an assortment of fire-fighting equipment, including three pumper engines, three tankers, three brush pumpers, one rescue vehicle and two support vehicles.

The building also includes office spaces, a conference room, kitchen facilities, a safe room and a bunk room, as well as additional storage.

The department is paid for by local taxes in the district.

“We’re a Title 19 tax-supported district,” Stoops said. “Every resident is assessed a special tax of seven mils on their property evaluation.”

Everyone on the department is trained to operate all equipment, since it’s impossible to tell who will be available when a call comes in.

One firefighter is on duty at the station from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day, but the rest are working their regular jobs, on call whenever help is needed. Each person carries a pager, and responds, if possible, to any call that comes in.

Response to each call depends on a number of variables, Stoops said, including the information provided by dispatchers, wind speed and weather conditions.

“On days when we have the red flag alert (for dangerous burning situations), we send extra equipment,” he said.

Oak Cliff Fire Department may call for help from surrounding departments, if needed.

The volunteers are looking forward to arrival of a new engine, expected in December. The new engine is equipped with a Compressed Air Foam System (CAFS), the chief said.

The CAFS injects a soapy substance, air and water into the lines, making the lines lighter in weight and more efficient.

“It makes water ‘wetter,’” Stoops said. “Water can be a problem out here because we need more hydrants. The CAFS will help us extend our water supply.”

Stoops expressed his appreciation for the residents of the Oak Cliff Fire District, as well as personnel from the Edmond Fire Department and other surrounding departments.

“I appreciate everything they do for us and with us,” he said.

He’s also grateful for the men and women who volunteer to serve as firefighters.

“My people are all heroes,” Stoops said. “They give of their talents and of their time. They spend time away from their families in order to help the citizens of our district.”

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