The Woodward News

September 15, 2013

Grants beneficial to rural fire departments

Rachael Van Horn
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — In today’s world where a dollar doesn’t buy what it used to, $4,400 doesn’t sound like much.

But for Mooreland Volunteer Fire Department, the money means almost half their fuel bill for the year, said Mooreland Fire Chief Mark Murray.

So a small $4,474 infusion of cash from the Oklahoma Department of Food and Forestry is nothing to sneeze at, Murray said.

“We budget about $8,000 per year for fuel and even though this year has been pretty good with the rain we have had, in the last two years before this, we went over that,” Murray said. “We use the money to offset the cost of fuel so we can use the other money we get from the county and the city of Mooreland for other needs.”

The grant is a yearly cash contribution by the ODFF,  given to all Oklahoma community fire departments which serve populations under 10,000 said ODFF spokesman, Michelle Finch-Walker.

Funded by the Oklahoma Legislature, the grant 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, Finch-Walker said.

“It is a way for us to help support the rural fire departments which play such a significant role in fighting the severe wild fires we have in Oklahoma,” she said.

“Rural fire departments are a critical partner in suppressing fires across Oklahoma and these grants help communities keep their small departments operating," said Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese.

According to Murray, the cash infusion comes at a good time, as firefighters prepare for what could be another significant fire season.

 “The rain we have had has been a mixed blessing,” he said. “While it kept things more wet this year and we had less fires, now if we don’t see some rain soon, there has been a lot of grass growth and that makes a lot of fuel for fires if it get dry.”

Murray reminded people in Woodward County to be mindful of outdoor burning, even though officially it is permitted at present.

“We are good for outdoor burning within the rules,” he said. “We just need to be cautious with all the growth and available fuel for a fire if one gets out of control.”