Study on Rural Fire Emergency Response

State Rep. Trey Caldwell, R-Lawton, led a recent interim study to discuss the current systems in place for emergency management and ways to improve response time. The study was presented before the House Public Safety committee.

“When a person’s health or safety is at risk, they’re not concerned with whether the emergency responders come from their county or the next county over—they just want someone there to save their life,” Caldwell said. “It’s incumbent upon us as legislators to ease any separation between agencies so they can work together quickly and efficiently in the interest of public safety.”

Lance Terry, who is the 911 coordinator for Oklahoma Emergency Management, told the committee there were 128 centers handling 911 calls, in addition to 32 standalone dispatch centers, but that dispatch services were local decisions.

Jack Nicholson, who serves as fire chief of the Chattanooga Fire Dept., spoke on the relationship between volunteer fire departments, municipal governments and county dispatch services.

He told members that while many volunteer fire departments have boundaries that cross county lines, the authority of individual departments remains with the jurisdiction of the title 11 or 18 governance, regardless of county lines.

“Bureaucratic red tape is preventing our fire departments from servicing the areas closest to them, and it risks the lives and livelihoods of Oklahomans,” Caldwell said. “I’m thankful for everyone who brought their expertise to the table for this discussion and I’m hopeful we can work together to find a solution that protects Oklahomans and preserves taxpayer dollars.”

A video of the study is available at https://okhouse.gov/Video/Default.aspx.

Source: OK House 

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