Stillwater firefighters fight to keep ambulance service


Tuesday, November 11th 2008, 7:26 pm
By: News 9


By Kirsten McIntyre, NEWS 9

STILLWATER, Okla. -- For more than 35 years, Stillwater firefighters have not only fought fires, but they've also provided the ambulance service. Recently, a debate was sparked about whether they have enough employees.

Their job as EMT's may be given to someone else, which has some firefighters fighting back.

"As much as we found to make it not political, we found out pretty fast it was," firefighter Dale Parrish said.

Parrish belongs to the Unified Firefighters of Stillwater, a political action committee made up of firefighters. Among their goals is forcing city hall to hire more people.

"It's a safety concern for us, a safety concern for the citizens we serve and that's why we're doing what we're doing," Parrish said.

While it's been three years since Stillwater's former fire chief recommended the city hire an additional 36 firefighters, none has been added. Firefighters argue their resources are being stretched too thin.

Dan Galloway is Stillwater's city manager. He said a task force was formed by the mayor to also look at the problem. Among the recommendations, is to find another way to provide ambulance service.

"I think it's proven there are some extremely high quality ambulance service all over the state that are very efficient lower cost in operating that aren't staffed in fire department," Galloway said.

With Stillwater's rapid growth, both sides agreed something needs to be done.

"We've reached a point several years ago where the number of personnel we have probably does not cover both services adequately," Galloway said.

Firefighters are not happy about the thought of not providing ambulance service. They believe they can get there faster than another service.