Marlow looks to hire fourth firefighter - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Marlow looks to hire fourth firefighter

MARLOW, Okla._After weeks of research, city officials said the Marlow Fire Department will not be upgraded to a full-time station, something residents have demanded for several weeks.

After two people, including a young child, were killed in a house fire back in May, residents said the seven-minute response time by firefighters wasn't good enough. In response, the city agreed to explore the possibility of moving toward a full-time department. Last month, they created a task force solely designed to inform the public about its progress. But the city has now announced, after reviewing their budget, a full-time department just isn't financially feasible.

The city's annual budget is already allocated for things like water, electricity and maintenance. A full-time department would require around 16 full-time firefighters, Marlow has three. With $9.2 million a year, there's just no way the city is able to afford all those salaries, but they can afford one. And that one could make a huge impact on how the department is run.

"With what we have now, we give 110 percent,” said Marlow Fire Chief Ryan Hall.

Chief Hall says a full-time fire department would've been a great addition to the city.

"That's something I feel the community needs, it's something we want. It's going to allows us to provide for our community, but we also understand the financial needs as well," said Chief Hall.

Between keeping the lights on and the water flowing, to even keeping streets up to par, City Administrator Jason McPherson says there's little wiggle room when it comes to money.

"These are all things the city is tasked to do, and when we talked to other communities that had to make decisions: 'We can't do that anymore, we got to do this' it's not something that myself or the council wanted to get into," said McPherson.

But with three full-time firefighters on staff, he says the solution to having a more efficient department lies with a fourth.

The fourth full-time firefighter will allow the department to have someone here at the station 24 hours a day, that's something Marlow hasn't had since 1994. Fire Chief Ryan hall says it's not exactly full-time status, but it's a start.

"It feels good to us, it's an accomplishment. It allows us to utilize volunteers for fires and car wrecks...the way it should be," said Chief Hall.

Marlow fire wouldn't just have 24 hours of staffing; it would have an opportunity to more growth in the future.

"Looking at expansion later on to enhance that 24 hour coverage; that was the best way to maintain the quality of life we have while at the same time improving the service of our fire department," said McPherson.

"We're finally moving in the right direction, we just gotta stay on task and keep improving," said Chief Hall.

One additional paid employee would cost the city around $34,000 compared to an average of around $460,000 for a full time department. Officials hope to have the fourth position in place by the end of 2015 fiscal year.

Marlow hopes to bring in even more paid firefighters in the future. Although future budgets have not been created, they say two more could be on the way within the next few years.

 

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