3-22-06 - Republicans and democrats agree that firefighters, especially the smaller agencies are in desperate need of additional funding, the only question is how exactly do they get it?
The hours were brutal, the pay was little, and the resources were depleted for firefighters across Oklahoma. Rural firefighters know that story all too well, so lawmakers at the state capitol are doing something about it, but controversy has risen on how to do so. A bill proposed by the GOP will raise state funding to $5,000 a year for each rural department, which is up almost $2,700.
There has also been talk of setting up a separate fund to help some 800 fire departments replace failing equipment. But there are arguments on how much money to add and when the fire departments should get the money. Some are suggesting they need to get the money immediately as an advance, but others are saying that does not make good financial sense because they would be getting their money for next year, now.
Most rural departments have had to depend on local fundraisers over the past months to help pay for fuel and new equipment.