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April 20, 2013

Senate approves legislation allowing rural communities to have more volunteer firefighters

NORMAN — The Senate this week approved legislation allowing rural communities to add volunteer firefighters. House Bill 1904 will allow towns that have reached their limit of 25 volunteer firefighters to add an additional five firefighters if needed.

Sen. John Sparks, Senate author of HB 1904, said the measure would allow communities that have battled some of the most threatening wildfires in recent years to strengthen their ability to defend life and property.

“We want our fire departments to have all the resources they need to keep our communities safe,” said Sparks, D-Norman.  “The wildfires we’ve seen in recent years have stretched their resources to the limit, and they need to be able to add manpower. 

The legislature shouldn’t stand in the way of well-trained men and women who are willing to place themselves in danger to protect our communities.”

The bill will authorize any municipality with a volunteer fire department that serves as a 911 emergency area in communities of at least fifty square miles to add up to five volunteer firefighters to its force.

Rep. Bobby Cleveland, House author of HB 1904, said the measure would help rural fire departments protect Oklahoma communities.

“Volunteer firefighters are the line that stands between rural communities and natural disasters,” said Cleveland, R-Slaughterville. “These men and women protect our most valuable possessions, and they are stretched thin. This bill will help authorize them to take on a larger number of firefighters, when appropriate.”

HB 1904 was unanimously approved by the Senate and now advances to the desk of the governor.

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