BIG CABIN, Okla. — Big Cabin Fire Department was shut down for three weeks after it lost all but one volunteer in a day. But now, that lone volunteer, the interim chief, says the department is back and as strong as ever.
Kevin Oakley is the interim fire chief, who stayed on and for three weeks tirelessly worked to get his numbers back for one reason.
"Somebody's gotta go. If I don't go, who is?"
Still, it's a title Oakley never expected.
"The thought of me being chief didn't come about until everybody was quitting, and I said 'oh... uh oh. I know where this is going'," Oakley said. "I said, 'guys if anybody wants this spot you can have it', and all I heard was crickets."
Five of Oakley's counterparts in Big Cabin resigned after the town council voted against keeping automatic mutual aid with the neighboring Vinita Fire Department.
In his search, Oakley, a six-year firefighter himself, gathered some familiar faces, including his own former fire chief, assistant chief, and captain. In all, he estimates he got 40 years of experience altogether.
11 volunteers in all came back, many with experience, and some starting fresh.
"Starting out here you have to learn to do everything. You might be running the truck one day, and you might be running the brush truck the next day," Oakley said. "Nobody has assigned seats, nobody has assigned assignments. You go up and you need to know every assignment for every spot."
Tuesday, after three weeks of being closed down, Big Cabin Fire Department reopened. Wednesday morning, they were on their first call.
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