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Budget cuts forcing Oklahoma City Fire Department to put some equipment out of service

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OKLAHOMA CITY - State budget cuts continue to affect programs in Oklahoma, forcing departments to make difficult decisions to stay afloat.

The cuts are impacting the Oklahoma City Fire Department’s resources, even putting important equipment out of service.

"We're having challenges with the budget," said Fire Chief Keith Bryant with the Oklahoma City Fire Department.

Bryant said, this fiscal year, the department has reduced their budget by about $3.5 million.

On top of that, there's been a significant increase in overtime costs, forcing important equipment out of service in order to minimize those overtime costs while meeting the budget reduction.

“Yes, there's a diminished level of service, but we make sure to do that in a way that it's not that severe," Bryant said.

These brush pumpers are crucial in fighting wildfires and, luckily, due to recent weather, the threat has been low.

Just one brush pumper out of service saves the department on average $1,400 per day in operating costs.

Multiply that by six, and that's saving roughly $8,400 per day.

Union President Scott VanHorn wants to keep this equipment in service because those brush pumpers have other uses, too.

"They can get to areas that a fire engine can't. They have one person assigned to them and can sit on downed power lines and make sure that the citizens are safe from them," VanHorn said.

The fire chief hopes the cutbacks are temporary and the economy will eventually rebound.

"Hopefully, before too long, things pick back up, and we get back to what we consider normal funding or revenue growth," Bryant said.