The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 12, 2011

Fire department, community serve each other

By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

FAIRVIEW — Like most fire departments throughout northwest Oklahoma, Fairview Fire Department is dependent upon the people they serve.

“Really, we only have one fundraiser a year,” said Chief Greg Harmon. “It’s our chili and stew supper we hold the first Saturday of February.”

For the past 38 years, the supper has allowed the department to purchase equipment needed to keep the community they serve safe.

This year, because a game was scheduled the same day as the supper, Harmon didn’t think going into the fundraiser it was going to cover the department’s needs. But when the day came there was a bigger turnout for the supper than usual.

“The people just amazed us, and we had a good turnout,” Harmon said, noting the department raised more money this year than it did the year before. “That’s the backbone of keeping us going and doing what we can do.”

Harmon said the firefighters undergo training during the year and often learn of equipment they could be using to better serve the community or save lives.

One such piece of equipment is a thermal imaging camera, which firefighters can use to detect heat sources.

“Now, we’re able to cut a 2-by-2 hole in the wall versus knocking out the whole wall,” he said, noting it saves residents, and their insurance companies, money and hassle. “It’s just been an awesome piece of equipment to have on our board of our trucks.”

The department had raised funds for the $8,500 piece of equipment, but that’s all part of doing the job.

“We all work for people, and we live there,” Harmon said. “We think of things we did in the past. We try to purchase things that’s going to help our department do things better but also helps the community because they show up and help us.”

He said often the community will help in whatever way it can.

“It’s a good feeling when you’re out on a fire and you’ve been out there six or eight hours ... and they open the trunk up or back door of the pickup and it’s full of pizza, Gatorade and water,” he said. “They know we’re out there and are trying to do a good thing.

“They give us support, and that’s an important tool to have when you have a volunteer department.”

Until last year, Fairview Fire Department was all-volunteer. In April, the city hired one full-time firefighter.

“Now we are really kind of combination department,” Harmon said. “We have one full-time and 20 volunteers.”

The department does more than respond to fires in the Fairview area. Harmon said the department does mutual aid with all six other departments in Major County and is part of a task force strike team that can respond to larger fires.

“We’ll actually travel as a group, as a team, and go other places, mainly because a lot of them come to our aid and came to our counties,” Harmon said. “You can do so much more when you’ve got a team of people. You’re able to stay on that fire line.”

Due to changing rules, the department is now looking to update equipment to help ensure every firefighter’s survival — bunker gear. National Fire Protection Association rules state such gear should not be worn for more than 10 years.

“We were wearing things more than absolutely longer than we should have been,” Harmon said. “Now if a garment is 10 years old, or older, it has to be disposed of. We’re going through that right now. We’re checking all the dates on our bunker gear and trying to get replaced what needs to be replaced.”

A pair of pants costs about $1,600 and a coat about $1,500.

“We’re just trying to get some equipment updated,” he said.

Those wanting to help can send donations to Fairview Firefighter’s Association at P.O. Box 386, Fairview, OK 73737.