OKLAHOMA CITY-As Oklahoma continues to make national headlines because of the devastating fires that have swept across the state this week, Senator Kenneth Corn said the story that isn’t being told is the true emergency facing rural fire departments in Oklahoma.
“Our mostly volunteer rural fire departments are borrowing money to put gas in their trucks so they can go fight these fires and save lives,” Corn (D-Poteau) said. “The state has a personal responsibility to make these fire departments whole again as soon as possible, and we must use whatever options are available to us to do so.”
The Majority Caucus Chairman said equally important to providing immediate funding for rural fire departments is building a statewide communication infrastructure that will allow those that are the first line of defense against natural disasters, the ability to communicate effectively with each other during emergency situations.
Corn recently filed legislation that will equip Oklahoma with an 800 MHZ statewide emergency communication system. The Senator said this upgraded technology will give Oklahoma emergency response agencies the ability to coordinate a faster response during crisis situations including natural disasters and acts of terrorism.
He said the recent rash of wildfires demonstrates the true need for firefighters to have the ability to communicate with each other. Just this week, Oklahoma’s volunteer firefighters have battled wildfires throughout the state without the ability to communicate with each other-often times causing confusion for those coordinating and fighting the wildfires that have burned thousands of acres of ranch land.
“Oklahomans are all too familiar with the tragedy that comes from both natural disasters and terrorism,” Corn said. “In emergency situations like these, speed saves lives."
Senator Corn said the need for a better communication system for emergency workers for different levels of government was made even greater on a national level this year during the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when local, state and federal agencies were unable to communicate effectively.
“Oklahoma communities and Oklahoma families should never be left behind when tragedy strikes,” Corn said. “The State of Oklahoma needs to be responsible to the citizens of this great state and that is why I believe it is imperative that we invest in this new technology.”
Corn pointed out that Oklahoma should take the lead in becoming one of the first states in the nation to implement this life saving communication system.
“Oklahoma communities and families deserve the safety this statewide communication system will bring,” Corn said.
“The job these volunteer fire fighters have performed this week fighting these fires has been nothing short of a miracle and we need to provide them with all the tools necessary to continue protecting the lives of Oklahomans when tragedy strikes.”