$2.1 million was provided to the Department of Agriculture to increase support of Oklahoma's 825 rural fire departments. Wildfires during 1996 highlighted the critical need for fire protection for rural Oklahoma. Of the new funds:

  • $900,000 is for increased operational grants to each Rural Fire District. Each district will receive state aid of about $2,300 in FY'98, a 153% increase above FY'97 grants and 9 times the amount granted in FY'95.

  • $445,000 was appropriated for the Rural Fire Protection Program (80/20 match program), which helps districts build stations and buy equipment and vehicles. Districts match the state funds with 20 percent local funds. The new funds are a 170% increase over FY'97 levels, and 5 times higher than the FY'95 amount.

$45,000 was provided for an additional Rural Fire Coordinator to help fire districts locate surplus federal and military equipment.

Other rural fire protection initiatives funded for FY'98 include: $90,000 for a mobile rural fire training center; $36,000 for a portable fire communications center for use in wildfires; and $75,000 to the Rural Fire Equipment and Supply Fund for purchase of additional equipment for rural departments.


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