Firefighters Propose a Fire Tax in Bryan County - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Firefighters Propose a Fire Tax in Bryan County

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BRYAN COUNTY, OK -- Funding for our local fire departments continues to decline, yet operating costs are on the rise. Now, Bryan County is working to get a fire tax put on next year's ballot. Deeda Payton took a tour of our local stations today to see first-hand the need.

While some departments are fortunate to have gotten grant money to buy protective gear and equipment, others seem neglected. Firefighters tell me this fire tax would help all the departments work together and improve their capabilities to ultimately save more lives.

Firefighters do not exist solely to put out fires and rescue the occasional cat from a tree, these days firefighters extricate car wreck victims, clean up oil spills and make ambulance runs when seconds count.

But, without the proper equipment and gear, they can't do their job to the best of their ability. "The more that we can meet the standards, the faster we can do things such as rescue, put out structure fires, grass fires."

Bryan County Fire Departments are proposing a fire tax, a quarter of cent sales tax. It would amount to roughly $20 a year for the average resident to continue their service and improve their response time and ability to save you, your family and your property in an emergency. "We will have an entity that's established county-wide indicatives. We'll be able to purchase specialized rescue equipment, training and things that go for every department in the county, not just one."

The fire tax would provide a source of continuous revenue. Currently most departments run on $5,100 a year plus grant money and donations, and equipment is expensive. "A brush truck typically costs about $40-80,000."

And, if this fire tax doesn't pass. "You could see departments not being able to do as much as they're doing now." And, with more than 35 hundred fires in Bryan County a year, not to mention the thousands of ambulance calls, firefighters say it comes down to two simple necessities, your safety and your money.

Tuesday, all the Bryan County Fire Departments will receive grant money from the state, $5,100 to last the entire year, but they worry that with the current economic status, it won't be enough.

To view frequently asked questions for the Bryan County Fire Tax you can visit www.bcfirechief.org. There are 18 total fire departments in the county, of which 17 are volunteer. Durant is the only paid fire department in the county.

Deeda Payton, KTEN News.

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