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Red River Valley REA donates $15K to Love County volunteer fire departments

Sierra Rains
The Daily Ardmoreite
REA Director of Marketing KorDale Lornes (left) presents a $15,000 check to Love County Fire Association Chairman Bryan Rieck (right). Rieck is also Fire Chief at Lake Murray Village Volunteer Fire Department.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a different set of issues for volunteer fire departments that heavily rely on donations. However, the Love County volunteer departments have seen an increase in generosity during these uncertain times. 

At the Love County Fire Association’s July meeting held in Marietta on Wednesday, a representative from the Red River Valley Rural Electric Association presented the fire association’s chairman, Bryan Rieck, with a $15,000 check. Rieck said the check will be distributed to the county’s 14 departments, along with a few other local departments outside of Love County. 

“Concern for community is a continued cooperative principle that our Board and employees are proud of," said REA CEO Brent Sykora. “This community is our home, and we feel it’s only right to give back to the communities we serve. These local fire departments of dedicated men and women volunteer their time to serve our communities and for that, we would like to give them a big thanks.”

Each department will receive around $400 to $500 to use for general operations. Volunteer fire departments in Love County operate with a small budget of between $10,000 to $15,000. Rieck said their budgets are composed of an annual $4,000 grant from the state of Oklahoma and a small tax base from the county. 

Donations play a vital role in keeping volunteer departments alive, as the sheer cost of equipment and gear for just one firefighter can take a big chunk out of the department’s budget. One full set of gear for a firefighter can easily cost around $4,000. 

Typically, the departments are able to hold several fundraisers, which bring in anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000. However, the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to fundraising events this year. While donations from fundraisers have been down, Rieck said many individuals who live within the volunteer department districts have personally donated extra money this year. 

For many living within these districts, the volunteer firefighters are some of the first responders to arrive on scene when there is an emergency. 

Rieck, who also serves as the chief for the Lake Murray Village Volunteer Fire Department, said he is extremely grateful to REA and the community members that have donated in order to keep their fire departments operational. “We are grateful for, and rely on support from, local businesses, charitable groups and individuals to keep your fire departments operational.” 

Rieck said community members can also help out by donating bottles of water and gatorade to their local volunteer departments amid extremely hot weather conditions. To donate, contact your local volunteer fire department.