Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

August 20, 2013

Rains a big help with fire danger

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — The heat was building and the fire danger increasing when the skies began to open up offering some much needed rainfall for Garvin County residents and fire departments alike.

That’s the word of Pauls Valley’s top fire official, who told local Kiwanis Club members the rain systems passing through over the last few weeks did wonders to douse the summer dangers of more fires breaking out in the area.

Local Fire Chief Mark Norman says it was the occasional rain that has done area fire departments a real favor by dramatically dropping the fire danger out there.

“We were starting to get some grassfires,” Norman said.

“Then it started raining and it went away,” he said about the fire danger.

“The fire danger has been really nothing since it started raining.”

A county sales tax approved by voters in March 2012 is also proving to be a big help to fire departments across the county.

Norman says the tax is helping many of them, especially the smaller volunteer departments, begin the process of updating equipment for their firefighters.

“It’s allowing them to get a lot of the small things,” he said.

“The county tax has helped a whole lot of departments, especially the smaller ones. Now these fire departments are getting top notch stuff.”

As for the PV Fire Department, Norman said it’s really been a matter of allowing the tax revenue to build up for now with future projects possibly being to create a new bay door at the station or to later get a new fire truck.

He instead gives plenty of credit to his predecessor Joe Eddy for putting a strong emphasis long before the tax on updating the equipment for the local fire department.

“The gear is up to date thanks to Joe.”

The department itself has 18 paid firefighters to go along with another 16 volunteers.

That’s important because the department “covers a big chunk of the whole county” as it battles grassfires and structure fires when needed, along with the help it provides when a traffic accident occurs.

One thing the department has needed for some time is one, maybe two more smaller fire stations to add to the central station located near Pauls Valley’s downtown area.

“We’re hoping to get a new station, especially for ISO purposes,” Norman said, referring to insurance ratings.

Those ratings have improved in recent years but could get even better with the addition of a fire station or two, which would help with faster response times for firefighters.

“We need one out west and one back south by the hospital,” he said.

“I’ve also always thought a station on the east side would be a good idea because of the train.”