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Three Neighbors Breathe Life Into Aging Volunteer Fire Department

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Darren Brown, News 9

RICHLAND, Oklahoma -- An aging fire volunteer fire department has new life, thanks to three new neighbors.

Mike Clark moved to Richland just a few years ago, and had never even thought about being a firefighter, but his desire to get involved in the community led to a new "career."

The town's fire department was established almost forty years ago, but hadn't evolved much since then, according to Clark, who's the current chief.

"The fire department just wasn't growing with the area," Clark said.  "I mean we've had over $12 million worth of new home construction just a mile south of here."

The department's main fire engine was a 1971 model, and the tanker truck was military issue from 1966.  The brush pumpers were a little newer, both were early 1980s models.

Richland just put a brand new 2011 model fire engine into service last week.  They've updated all of their vehicles and are currently phasing the older ones out.  The new problem for the department is how to get all of the new vehicles into the old fire department.  A $15,000 donation is taking care of that.  The department is adding 40 feet to the back of the existing station.

Clark joined the department close to the same time as Jeff Denton, who's now the assistant chief.  Denton shared Clark's concerns about the department early on.

"We just decided 'Hey, y'know this is not where it needs to be for the community,'" he said.

Richland Captain Rodney Eaton rounded out the trio and is encouraged by the department's progress.

"We have a vision, we know what we want," said Eaton.  "And so far we've been able to achieve that in a very short time."

The department has also done extensive training with their dozen members.  They've completed over 1,300 hours just this year.

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