Public Outcry Saves Military Surplus Program for Rural Fire Dept.

- For years the Department of Defense has donated its military surplus vehicle to rural fire departments and that program was recently in jeopardy.

Many Texoma volunteer fire departments have older model military cargo trucks that are remodeled with firefighting equipment.

This helps fire crews save property and lives.

But when word got out the Department of Defenses' Fire Fighter Program was coming to an end in Oklahoma, public outcry rang out there and here in Texas, which has resulted in that order being rescinded.

For years the government has provided rural fire departments with free military muscle to fight raging brush fires.

"These trucks, if we went out and bought them, would be anywhere from $150,000 to $250,000 and these grants, when we get the surplus, we get these trucks for free.   All we've got to do is outfit them and paint them and get them ready and roll with them," says Chief William Norris with Frieberg-Cooper Volunteer Fire Department.

But these vehicles almost stopped rolling in when the Environmental Protective Agency and the Pentagon announced they were discontinuing the surplus military program because of carbon emission of the vehicles.
And that had one volunteer fire chief fuming.

"If they take those vehicles away from us then we have to figure out how are we gonna stay in business cause without a vehicle we're back to burlap sacks and wet sacks and brooms.  Without the vehicles you can't get there," explained Chief Mike Hall with Lake Arrowhead Volunteer Fire Department.

But that is no longer a concern for volunteer fire officials since the Defense Logistics Agency and Environmental Protection Agency reached an agreement allowing the program to continue.

Lake Arrowhead Volunteer Fire Department has three military surplus vehicles and Freiberg--Cooper Volunteer Fire Department has one, which Chief William Norris says arrived just last week.

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