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May 28, 2014

Marlow residents speak in favor of paid fire department

MARLOW — Between 40 and 50 people showed up at the Marlow City Council meeting Tuesday in support of having a fully-paid fire department.

Of those people, 10 spoke about the need, which has become a point of discussion among Marlow citizens since the May 17 fire that resulted in the deaths of a 2-year-old girl and a 25-year-old woman.

Krissy Basham was the first to speak, supporting the Marlow Fire Department by asking the council to find a way to make the department fully paid.

“We need a full-time fire department,” Basham said. “Pretty sidewalks, pretty buildings aren’t going to save lives. Minutes make a difference. I used to work in an emergency room. Minutes matter. These guys need this funding.”

Many of the people speaking during the meeting had some relation to the two people killed during the house fire less than two weeks ago.

Among them was Rachel Blundell who said the Fire Department and the people in thehouse did everything right. But a fully-paid department could have made for a quicker response time, decreasing the amount of time the fire would have had to grow.

“I believe having a full-time department would have made a difference,” Blundell said. “I think we need to find a way. I don’t think anyone in this town would say no.”

Other family members who spoke included Joseph Womack, father of the 2-year-old Rebel Womack, and grandparents Roy Womack and Kim Cooper.

“That was my daughter in that house,” Joseph Womack said. “That was my best friend. This needs to be addressed. Time is money. Time is life. We’re big enough.”

Roy Womack agreed, calling for the council members to take action.

Various members of the community also spoke in favor of a full-time department.

Marlow firefighters responded to the scene within seven minutes. Judah Shepherd, state fire investigator, said the city could save more lives and reduce the amount of damage if they find the funding to pay the firefighters.

Shepherd has been in the area for eight years, noting he goes around the state to investigate fires. He said he has adopted Marlow as his home and felt compelled to speak in favor of having a fully-paid department.

“I need you to look into your hearts,” Shepherd said. “Each minute, a fire doubles in size. The firefighters responded in seven minutes. Imagine if they could have responded in three. I’m not here to say that would have saved lives.

“You’ve got to find the funding. You’ve got a fine fire department.”

Jason McPherson, city administrator, and Marlow Mayor Brad Boles said the council is looking into funding sources in hopes of making the department fully paid.

“A study and collection of information has already begun,” McPherson said. “Everyone’s going to have to be involved. It’s going to be expensive, but not impossible.”

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Lorelei Birdwell of Duncan draws a sunflower at part of the drawing class Monday at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center.

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