Volunteering to Fight Fires
Just across the Logan County line, heading north along Bryant Road, passers-by are first notified that a fire station is in the vicinity by the highway sign featuring the silhouette of a fire truck. A few yards beyond that, a building comes into view on the left.
This is the headquarters of the Oak Cliff Fire Protection District volunteer fire department, and they are fully prepared to handle just about any fire-related or medical situation.
On this particular evening, Firefighter Corey Timmons and Lt. Luke Young are busying themselves at the station. Inside, a class for new recruits is underway, led by Chief Ken Stoops and Asst. Chief Terry Darcy.
Timmons and Young go outside, in front of the 15-year-old firehouse, and proudly point to Engine 98, the red behemoth which can hold up to 1,000 gallons of water.
“It’s a very large truck and we’re very fortunate to have it,” Timmons said as he walked around it. “It’s a great engine, a great truck.”
And the cost of the two-year old fire truck? $340,000 and purchased by the taxpayers of the Oak Cliff fire protection district. The entire department has 11 vehicles, which includes three engines and four brush pumpers. And it’s needed, since the district is 38-square miles.
As it is explained, even though this area is considered part of Edmond, Oak Cliff was actually a subdivision called Oak Cliff Estates that felt it needed a fire station of its own. Since those days, back in the early 1990’s, the area has flourished and the station and its pool of volunteer fire fighters has expanded and their equipment has improved.
This includes 800-megahertz radios and one of their favorite items – a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) camera.
Timmons and Young said this special camera is particularly important because it can see thermal images, like evidence of fire, through a wall. They said that it saves time and the lives of firefighters.
When it comes to what kinds of fires they fight, Young said house fires tend to be rare, with an average of 15 a year. But when the winds kick up in the spring, the grass fires can be rather troublesome.
“Grass fires, to me, are the most dangerous,” Young said, when asked about his least favorite fire to fight. “You’re usually out in the middle of nowhere which adds to why they are not easy to fight. Plus, they can come up behind you.”
When asked about some of the more intense situations he’s been in, Young said the medical calls, particularly involving small children, are some of the most difficult. “They’re very difficult to work with because they don’t talk,” Young said.
Back inside, the new recruits are listening to the instructions of the firefighter in charge, Asst. Chief Terry Darcy.
Timmons said a new recruit has to put in six months of time with the department before going out on a call.
“Everybody is certified above first-aid level,” he said.
The reason for so many recruits and potential fire fighters? “It varies,” Young said. “Some guys are looking to pursue a career in it while some are simply looking for something that looks good on a resume.”
On a quick tour of the inside of the station, Timmons shows an inner room in the heart of the station, which is called a “safe room.” It’s where firefighters and the public alike can come to if there is a dangerous storm in the area.
When it comes to time off and cooking, Young is asked who is the best cook among the department. He isn’t bashful to respond that his cooking is among the favorite. “Lots of guys prefer my cooking,” Young said. “I like to cook for big groups and plus it builds a lot of camaraderie among the guys.”
And his favorite dishes? “Anything on the grill,” he said.
Young said that when the guys are off duty, many have their favorite hobbies. “Oh, we have guys who love hunting, fishing, skydiving, snowboarding, snow skiing, and golfing,” he said.
The area is growing so much that a second Oak Cliff station is opening up this month at the intersection of Charter Oak and Santa Fe to serve the western half of the district.
“We love the job and we love to help people,” Young said.