$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:
$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.