State forestry agencies rely on transferred equipment to effectively and efficiently combat wildfire.
WASHINGTON—The National Association of State Foresters welcomes today’s letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel submitted by a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators urging the Department of Defense (DoD) to completely resolve the federal excess property impasse.
A recent decision by the U.S. Army’s Tank and Automotive Command and the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) has left the USDA Forest Service (USFS) unable to acquire excess trucks and other equipment from the military for loan to state forestry organizations under two vital programs: the Federal Excess Personal Property Program (FEPP) and the Firefighter Property Program (FFP). We understand the decision to stop further transfers was based on a concern that some excess military vehicles may not contain Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emission certificates.
The Senate letter emphasized the importance of federal excess property to state foresters and our partners in responding to wildfire and protecting life and property in communities across the nation.
Chris Maisch, National Association of State Foresters president and Alaska State Forester, said today:
“State foresters are pleased to see the recent activity around a possible agreement between DLA and EPA, but are concerned about significant changes to the FFP program. Furthermore, we understand that the impasse around the FEPP program has not been resolved.”
“Halting the transfer of excess military equipment to states for firefighting will have an enormous negative impact on the ability of state and local resources to respond to fire. Quick response by local resources is critically important in keeping wildfires, and their costs, as small as possible.”
“So far this year, 83 percent of all wildfires have been responded to by state and local fire agencies, many of which were on federal lands. Each year, local firefighting agencies rely on the more than $150 million in excess federal equipment like trucks, pumps, generators, and engine parts that they receive through federal excess property programs.”
“This equipment is essential in protecting life and property from wildfire, and for many small and rural fire departments, federal excess equipment may be the only equipment they can afford.”
“We are grateful for the support from our partners in Congress to draw attention to this issue and hope that we can resolve this impasse as quickly as possible.”
For more state specific information about the FEPP and FFP programs, connect with your state forester.
Contact: Amanda Cooke, communications director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 624-5417