Budget cuts impact Tulsa Fire Department's public education

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Reported by: Morgan Downing
Updated: 1/10 6:36 pm Published: 1/10 4:58 pm

The city of Tulsa announced proposals to cut its budget.

FOX23's Morgan Downing found out jobs aren't on the line, but some services are on the chopping block that could put your safety at risk.

Handing out and checking smoke detectors throughout the city, and educating more than 30,000 students about fire safety every year is just part of the Tulsa Fire Department's Public Safety Education Unit's job.

But with the city's plan to cut nearly $7 million in expenses, it looks like public education could take a back seat.

The city of Tulsa is making cuts to all of its departments and when the fire chief was asked to cut about 3.5 percent from his budget, City Manager Jim Twombly said the public education unit would be the first to go.

"We're hoping that it's not a permanent reassignment, but a temporary reassignment during this time period," said Twombly.

FOX23 learned this cut will save the city nearly $350,000.

Four administrative positions will be changed; those employees will go back to fighting fires.

"Have to have X number of firefighters available at any time 24/7, and so having additional firefighters available will help us cut down on overtime and call backs," said Twombly.

One part of the public education unit is Fire Marshal Tom Hufford's education magic show.

The act conducts about 100 educational performances for Tulsa Public Schools each year. But now, it'll be lights out.

After deadly fires, the unit is in charge of distributing smoke detectors and other safety tips to nearby families.

Just this week three people have died in three fires in Tulsa.

"There would be some sacrifice there in terms of reassigning them out to field work fighting fires. It is a priority. But then again, fighting fires is probably the No. 1 priority," said Twombly.

The fire department is not the only one to see a cut. The city manager told FOX23 there will be cuts to about two dozen others with Streets and Stormwater taking the largest cut.

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