Rural fire departments no longer receive surplus equipment for DOD

By  | 

SOUTHERN OKLAHOMA -- Rural fire departments across the US will no longer receive surplus equipment previously provided by the Department of Defense.

800 rural Oklahoma fire departments no longer have access to vehicles designed to fight wildfires previously provided by the Department of Defense.

The sudden halt in supply is due to the enforcement of an agreement between the DOD and the Environmental Protection Agency aimed at reducing emissions.

But Oklahoma Forestry Services Director George Geissler says in a statement, "the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the vehicles are marginal at best compared to emissions of an uncontrolled wildfire,"

Fire departments throughout the state are currently using nearly nine thousand pieces of federal surplus equipment valued at $150 million, according to Forestry Services.

The Tishomingo Fire Department is one of 800 rural fire departments in Oklahoma affected. They say they simply can't fit new vehicles into their budget.

Captain Danny Walker says, "the funding is just not available to go out and spend money to fund new vehicles"

The Tishomingo Fire Department has eight of these hand me down cars in rotation right now. They vary in size from this to this being the smallest and you could see how they could get very expensive.

Walker said, "Once we get em we may spend anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to get them operational. that cost versus the cost of going out to buy something new that could be ten to hundreds of thousands of dollars."

Local fire departments are the first to respond to most wildfires and Geissler says this blow could be devastating for rural Oklahoma communities.

He added, "this action will ultimately result in increased exposure to communities to loss of life and property associated with wildfire."

OFS says they're working with state and federal officials to seek a long term solution to the issue.