Reps. Smith and Rick West Hold Meetings with Rural Fire Coordinators
OKLAHOMA CITY – Reps. David Smith, R-Arpelar, and Rick West, R-Heavener, held a meeting Feb. 21 with 11 rural fire coordinators from across the state who voiced concerns about new mandatory training requirements from the state fire marshal in accordance with state statutes. The meeting was standing room only in Smith's Capitol office. "Volunteer rural firefighters are rural Oklahoma's first line of defense," Smith said. "They're upset because of some of the rumors they are hearing about what might be required of them going forward. It was important to us that we heard their concerns. Now, we are focused on helping facilitate discussions between the coordinators, fire chiefs and the state fire marshal so everyone can be on the same page about the new training requirements." Smith said the next meeting will include State Fire Marshal Keith Bryant as well as fire chiefs and rural fire coordinators from across the state. The meeting will be public for anyone that wishes to attend, space allowing. It is set for 10 a.m. March 13 in Room 450 in the state Capitol, 2300 N Lincoln Blvd. Smith and West also are discussing holding a potential interim study to examine incentives to help recruit and retain rural firefighters. "These are volunteer positions, but they are vital for the safety of all who live and work in rural Oklahoma," West said. "I'm glad we're going to be able to get everyone around the table to discuss ways to improve conditions for these volunteer firefighters and those they serve."