Kenwood, rural fire depts. get annual Cherokee Nation funds
Kenwood Fire Department Chief Greg Butcher, right, explains to Cherokee Nation citizen and volunteer George Hair how hose connections work on a fire engine at the KFD in Delaware County. The department received $3,500 from the Cherokee Nation on May 7. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Kenwood Fire Department Chief Greg Butcher examines a piece of equipment in an emergency vehicle. The Cherokee Nation on May 7 gave rural fire departments such as the KFD $3,500 checks to help with equipment. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Fire suits hang in individual lockers at the Kenwood Fire Department in Delaware County. KFD Chief Greg Butcher said each suit costs thousands of dollars and that funds received from the Cherokee Nation help buy gear as it wears out through use. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
KENWOOD – The Kenwood Fire Department in Delaware County was one of 131 northeast Oklahoma rural volunteer fire departments to receive funds from the Cherokee Nation on May 7 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
The departments received $3,500 checks to help buy equipment, fuel and other needs. The total amount provided by the CN this year was $458,500.
According to a CN press release, the funding is appropriated in the tribe’s budget annually.
Greg Butcher, KFD fire chief, said the money is used for gear, training and safety programs for Kenwood Schools.
“We use it for gear and possibly some training. Most of it goes for gear. We also do from Head Start all the way through eighth grade every year. We bring all the kids over and do like fire prevention week,” Butcher said.
The money also helps the KFD provide free smoke alarms to homes in the community.
“We go around and where it (home) doesn’t have one (we offer an alarm). We started with the elderly and taking a smoke alarm and installing it in their house,” he said.
Butcher said KFD also obtains funds from a county sales tax allocation, fire dues and grants.
“In the very beginning when we first started, we got some money from Cherokee Nation to help with our first building. It was 20 years ago when we got money to get started,” he said.
The original station only had one or two vehicles. Now Kenwood has a fire station containing nine emergency vehicles, an office space and a conference room.
He said being a volunteer fire fighter is not all action. There are a lot of mundane efforts such as checking on the emergency vehicles to make sure they are ready to go, as well as cleaning and keeping supplies stocked. It’s not action-based but is necessary.
The KFD covers a 100-square-mile radius as part of the Oklahoma Insurance Department Insurance Services Office, where it is rated on a grading system that evaluates the quality of fire protection in its required coverage area. Starting at a grade of 10, Butcher said the lower number the better.
“We were the first department in Oklahoma, all-volunteer department, to ever reach a four. On our last grading, we dropped a little bit more. We have a three. They take into consideration your training, your equipment, response time, your communications and water supply, how much water you can get there in a certain length of time. We’re really, really proud of that. That’s like Broken Arrow, city of Tulsa, Oklahoma City-good,” he said.
There are more than 20 KFD volunteers, with a large percent of them being Cherokee thanks to Kenwood being a nearly all-Cherokee community.
“I appreciate the help from the (Cherokee) Nation. The money, it helps for our training and equipment,” Butcher said.