OKLAHOMA CITY- Our rural fire departments have been nothing short of heroic over the past few months as they have battled wildfires that have threaten our homes, businesses, churches and farm land.  The efforts of our courageous volunteer firemen highlight the “Oklahoma Standard” for which we are known throughout the entire nation. 

These firemen volunteer their time away from their families fighting dangerous fires not because the pay is so good, (they actually do the job for free) but simply because they feel a moral sense of duty to protect Oklahoma.  They often times do this job with outdated equipment and spend their own money to pay for gasoline in order to get to these fires.  They do more than any of us could ask.  We must now do our part by doing everything we can to ensure our rural fire departments have the funding necessary to protect our rural communities. 

Currently these rural fire departments depend on pie auctions and bean suppers for necessary funding to protect our families.  Oklahomans living in our part of the state know and understand the value of rural fire departments.  They understand that rural fire protection is essential to our quality of life.  They understand that the work done by rural fire departments actually saves homeowners money on their insurance premiums. 

This week in the Senate, we passed Senate Bill 1735, which doubles the operational grants to $5000 annually to rural fire departments.  This is great news for rural Oklahoma.  These rural fire departments are the first line of defense against wildfires that threaten our communities.  The bill awaits action in the House of Representatives.  I urge you to contact your State Representative and ask them to take action on this bill, so that we can continue to do our part to create a safer Oklahoma.

Without these fire departments, rural Oklahoma is vulnerable to the natural disasters like we have experienced this year.  That is why the passage of SB 1735 is so critical.  As a Legislature, we must do our part to refurbish these departments because their supplies and equipment are depleted after fighting months of continuous wildfires due to record drought conditions in our state.

When you are out in your communities, please take the time to thank these brave men and women for a job well done.  Thank them for protecting your family.  Thank them for protecting Oklahoma.  They deserve all the credit in the world for the outstanding job they have done this year.

The Oklahoma Standard is alive in well in rural Oklahoma—look no further than the local volunteer fire department for the latest heroes that are doing their part to make Oklahoma an even greater place to live, work and raise a family.

Thanks again for reading my “Senate Review.” You may contact my Senate office at the Capitol by calling (405) 521-5541 or email me with your concerns at paddack@oksenate.gov

Thank you for the honor of being your voice in the Oklahoma State Senate.  May God bless you all.. 

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