The Del City Fire Department continues to grow, thanks to the half-cent sales tax that passed last November. FEMA is now stepping in to speed up the process.
Fourteen months ago, the department was in such dire straits that it had to close one of the city’s two fire stations just to have the bare minimum staff of three six-man shifts. Now they are operating out of a brand-new headquarters with a full staff of three eight-man shifts, and even more help is on the way.
The local emergency team is joining forces with its federal counterpart. FEMA's SAFER grant is contributing to the hire of three new Del City firefighters to get the department closer to its goal.
“With where we are right now and our three additional, that will put us at one ten-man shift and two nine-man shifts,” says newly promoted Fire Chief Brandon Pursell.
Sales tax money will eventually pay for two more firefighters to complete the ideal roster of three ten-man shifts, with a new facility and competitive pay as an incentive to join. Pursell says he is relieved hard times are behind them, but that struggle brought them closer together.
He says, “We had to shut down a fire station. We had to take a truck out of service, and I told them how proud I was of them for being able to stay together as a unit.”
Now the firefighters can train in the same building where they lay their heads, and take their breaks in comfort and style.
“A career firefighter is away from his own house half of his working career,” Pursell points out, “so we didn’t want that institutional feel.”
Visitors are already stopping by to see the building. Through their passage of a bond and two sales tax increases over the past few years, Pursell says it is truly the community that made this success possible.
“We kept one mission, one vision and kept it going forward,” says Pursell, “and now we’re starting to see the fruits of our labor.”
Del City will host the grand opening and ribbon cutting for the new Station 1 on Oct. 5.