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City temporarily shuts down Spavinaw fire department

Posted at 6:19 PM, Jul 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-12 19:19:21-04

SPAVINAW, Okla. -- Spavinaw Mayor Roy McBride calls for a state audit of the fire department, and closes their services until further notice.

"Are you motioning to lock the fire department or are you motioning to freeze their finances?" asked City Councilor Amanda Miller.

Mayor Roy McBride answered, "To lock the fire department."

That announcement came from Mayor McBride during Thursday night's Spavinaw city council meeting. A few days prior, former fire chief, Zachary Payne resigned.

"If I get choked up a little bit here I’m sorry, Zach was a really great firefighter and I feel like we lost a hell of an asset with all of this," said Assistant Fire Chief Jim Miller.

Assistant Chief Jim Miller stood up for the fire department, saying they have nothing to hide with their private non profit fund.

"It's the property of only the active firefighters on the department," said Chief Miller.

The non profit Spavinaw firemen activities fund was created in 1991. Firefighters say it's different activities and events, like fireworks on the 4th of July.

"To allow any any other use of this money would be a slap in the face not only to anyone serving on the department now, but to those who served in the past," said Chief Miller.

Because Spavinaw fire is temporarily shut down, three surrounding volunteer departments are covering the area. Salina fire responds to the south end of town from the intersection of Indian Springs Road and Highway 82. Inside city limits and north will be covered by Langley and Strang. The increase in calls could cause a strain on the volunteers.

"Any time you add additional calls to a fire department it can be, hopefully with the three working together to cover the area should try to limit that," said Jason Miller, Chairman of Mayes County Firefighters Association.

There is an ambulance service in Spavinaw city limits, so first responders say the medical calls should not be an issue.

Mayor McBride says they're working to schedule a state audit of the fire department's finances.

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