Pawhuska firefighters receive new protective suits

Robert Smith
A group of Pawhuska firefighters is shown here, dressed in the department’s new wildland fire gear. Pictured are, from left, Justin Chinn, Jeremie Tuller, Randy Wadsworth, Colby Crawford, Gip Allen, Melvin Blossom, Josh Alexander, Dalton McCosar, Lloyd Arnce, Jeremy Smith, Mike Bayro, Dakota Jester and Tracy Fitzgerald. Robert Smith/Journal-Capital

Representatives of Enel Energy and Pawhuska city government were on-hand last Wednesday morning to celebrate the delivery to the Pawhuska Fire Department of a portion of the new safety suits purchased through a public-private collaboration.

Firefighters were dressed out in new wildland fire protective suits, and other suits referred to as “bunker gear” were scheduled to be shipped that day, Pawhuska Fire Chief Gip Allen said.

Cody Combs, site supervisor for the Osage Wind Farm located west of Pawhuska, commented on behalf of Enel Energy. He said the company made some $29,000 available to help with the firefighter gear purchase through a Wind Advisory Board. The board reviews proposed community projects.

The city of Pawhuska paid the other $25,000, Combs said.

“They are really great projects for us,” Combs said, adding that the firefigher gear idea was immediately attractive. “This was really a no-brainer.”

Chief Allen originally consulted with Joni Nash, executive director of the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce, about finding money to buy new protective suits. She made the connection with the Wind Advisory Board, of which she is a member.

The Pawhuska Fire Department consists of 18 firefighters, including Allen. There are eight full-time firefighters and 10 volunteers, Allen said. They handle fire calls in the city, but also go outside city limits to help with fire events like wildland fires, he said.

Allen said it has been about 11 years since the last time the department got new bunker gear. Also, the Osage Nation provided some fire-retardant jumpsuit style protective gear about eight to nine years ago, he said.

Allen on Wednesday said he is grateful to Enel for helping his department obtain protective suits that will increase firefighter safety.

Pawhuska Mayor Roger Taylor said he’s thankful that Enel’s assistance will save some money for city government.