FOX23 Exclusive: Tulsa Fire Chief says department almost fully staffed for first time in years

TULSA, Okla. — With Tulsa Fire Class 109 graduating Wednesday, the Tulsa Fire Department (TFD) Chief told FOX23 that the force is close to full strength for the first time in years.

Chief Michael Baker said this new group is the best of the best.

“Their grades are incredible, their work is … this is just a good class in general,” Baker said. “It’s a big class of firsts.”

One example is Sergio Iazoya, the first Tulsa firefighter who is a U.S. resident but not quite a U.S. citizen yet. Baker said the department recently removed the U.S. citizenship requirement off the application.

“We have resources through city programs to aid citizenship,” Baker said. “What better way to facilitate that than with a firefighter? Someone who can give back to the community.”

During the graduation ceremony Wednesday, Baker gave his firefighters a charge.

“Helping everyone that’s in this city for whatever their need is,” he addressed his cadets. “That’s our mission. That’s our job.”

TFD cadets were also sworn in by Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum before their badges were pinned to their uniforms.

During the graduation, TFD also presented a few awards to cadets who went above and beyond in training. One of those awards was created within the last week.

Wednesday, TFD Capt. Chad Myer remembered the life and legacy of the late TFD Capt. Josh Rutledge. TFD also honored his memory by creating the Servant’s Heart Award in Rutledge’s honor.

Meyer and Rutledge used to work together at a TFD station near Archer and Utica. Rutledge died Friday, Nov. 11, unexpectedly. He was 47-years-old.

“If you just go out to check the mail at Station 3, there’s probably somebody homeless wrapped up in a blanket on the sidewalk,” Meyer said. “But to Josh, they were all God’s children. And they were all treated equally.”

Myer also said Rutledge was an even better man than he was a firefighter. TFD Cadet Brooks Cataudella was presented with the Servant’s Heart Award at the ceremony Wednesday.





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