Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

May 2, 2013

Fire Tax helps with new gear

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — A county sales tax approved by voters last year is starting to pay off for fire departments throughout Garvin County.

The most recent move came earlier this week as all three county commissioners gave their OK to using the tax money to get all new gear for Elmore City’s firefighters to battle future structure fires.

Approved by the commissioner trio was a bid of just over $27,700 for the EC department to purchase bunker gear and equipment for 16 firefighters.

Elmore City’s fire chief, Eddie Stewart, said the fire department he oversees is now starting to use the tax money to get gear and equipment updated in a much needed way.

“This is structure gear,” Stewart said, referring to the more traditional firefighter equipment better suited for structure fires.

“We’ve already bought wildland gear,” he said about grassfire equipment for the department’s firefighters.

“We would not have this without the tax.”

It was in March 2012 when voters approved a quarter-cent county sales tax with 96 percent of the funding going to help each fire department in Garvin County.

The remaining funds go toward the county’s emergency management program.

It was just a few weeks ago when Elmore City and Wynnewood firefighters took their first step to put the tax money to good use.

In February both fire departments were given approval to buy the gear needed to better outfit them for battling grass fires.

The approval was for what’s called wild land protective clothing and equipment.

This week’s action is also getting Elmore firefighters better equipped for those times when they take on structure fires.

Wynnewood’s fire chief, Greg Dixon, said at that time the updating of fire equipment is needed to meet increased safety standards.

He added these types of acquisitions are exactly what the sales tax was intended to help fire departments get done.

”We wouldn’t be able to get this without the tax,” Dixon said about the new fire equipment.