If signed, the 5-year contract with Pro-Tec could save the airport just that.
Tulsa Fire Chief Michael Baker said the lowest amount the department could offer TIA in negotiations, providing only for minimum staffing, was about $1.3 million.
”We reduced and cut costs as best we can, and we could just not get to a number that was comfortable with the airport and us,” Baker said.
Despite the differences in costs, Higgins assured board members the change would come at no change to public safety, and described Pro-Tec as the “best fit for our needs today.”
“This in no way affects the level of safety to our customers,” Higgins said.
Baker said he understands the airport’s decision in light of its budgetary circumstance, but he knows it will come at costs to the fire department, as well.
Seventeen Tulsa firefighters staff the airport fire station now, he said, and for many, ARFF is their passion. Baker wasn’t exactly sure when TFD began providing TIA those services, but he said it has been at least 50 years, and it’s a highly-regulated and specific field different than the average neighborhood in need of fire suppression. At least one employee assigned there now has become a subject matter expert, gaining consultation requests from agencies across the nation.