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December 12, 2013

Grants help rural fire departments

NORMAN — Earlier this month, the Oklahoma Forestry Service — a division of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry — announced that $200,000 in competitive grants have been awarded to fire departments across Oklahoma.

All five Cleveland County rural departments receive annual operational grants, including Cedar Country, Lexington, Little Axe, Noble and Slaughterville. Additionally, the City of Lexington Fire Department was awarded an 80/20 grant this year.

According to the Oklahoma Forestry Services, Lexington is being awarded almost $2,000 to help cover the cost of the $10,000 construction project this year.

Lexington Fire Chief Jansen Idlett said they are using the money to add training spaces, offices, a bathroom and new kitchen area to their new fire station which the grants also contributed to.

“We built a fire station with that (grant),” Idlett said. “We got about $7,000 off of it two years ago. We get a little bit of it this year, not as much, but we’ll be framing the inside of it (the station) for training spaces and office spaces.”

The Lexington Fire Department has 18 volunteer firefighters and 12 fire apparatuses.

The 80/20 program was funded by the Oklahoma legislature and authorized by Gov. Mary Fallin. Following official notification, fire departments can make eligible purchases and submit receipts for 80 percent reimbursement, according to a press release from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.

“The Rural Fire 80/20 Grant program provides assistance to departments to fund improvements to their infrastructure and equipment, which improves the community’s ISO rating reducing insurance rates,” Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese said in a press release. “Funds can be used to purchase firefighting or communications equipment or to build or improve a fire station.”

Little Axe Fire Chief Al Snyder said every little bit of money they receive from the annual operational grant helps because everything in the fire service is expensive.

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