Departments hope to REAP benefits

By Katrina Goforth -

A public meeting was held Friday at the county commissioners’ office in Altus to discuss the action to apply for a Rural Economics Action Plan or REAP grant for the Jackson County Rural Fire Chiefs’ Association.

The grant will go to support the Wildland Fire Task Force that serves the area, as well as to alleviate firefighter safety concerns throughout Jackson County’s 10 rural and city fire departments, including the Altus Fire and Rescue Department.

Funded through the State of Oklahoma, the $12,366.85 grant would help the association purchase trailers, tanks, tools, and other equipment necessary to ensure the safety of the public and the protection of local firefighters.

“This grant is genuinely needed,” Jackson County Emergency Manager and Safety Director Wayne Cain said. “When the rural fire chiefs association meets, a lack of equipment is our number one issue.”

The addition, this equipment would allow easier refueling of fire engines while out in the field, quicker repairs if a tire should go flat, and help firefighters work more efficiently and effectively.

“In smaller communities, it takes longer to get organized,” said Marty Clinton, District 1 county commissioner, “This extra equipment would help us get going quicker.”

Though this is not the first time the board of county commissioners has applied for this grant, this is the first time they have applied for it with the intent to build up county fire departments. In 2015, they received the REAP grant in the amount of $22,000 to replace a communication repeater system.

This year, the board is looking toward the threat of wildfires in Oklahoma after a wildfire spread quickly from Kansas to Oklahoma in April. Though there are currently no burn bans issued for Oklahoma, according to Oklahoma Forestry Services, the Jackson County Rural Fire Chiefs Association want to be prepared for the unexpected.

The application for the REAP grant is due Thursday and with District 1 County Commissioner Marty Clinton’s recommendation, the REAP grant application will be submitted for inspection and possible approval.

For more information, contact Wayne Cain at 580-482-0229.

By Katrina Goforth

Reach Katrina Goforth at 580-482-1221, ext. 2077.

Reach Katrina Goforth at 580-482-1221, ext. 2077.

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