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Wyoming Commissioners Fight for Firefighting Equipment

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The National Association of County Officers (NACo) on Monday passed a resolution introduced by Laramie County Commissioner Buck Holmes to support the continuation of programs that provide surplus military equipment to state and local governments for use in fighting wildfires.  Citing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations related to emissions standards, the Department of Defense’s Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) has recently halted the transfer of this equipment, including trucks, pumps, generators and engine parts.  Passage of the resolution adds NACo to the growing list of groups concerned about the new policy’s impact on local governments’ ability to fight wildfires.

“Wyoming’s counties rely on these programs to acquire cost-effective equipment to fight wildfires,” said Commissioner Holmes.  “I am grateful my colleagues from all 50 states agreed.  We will now work as a united force and with our partners at the National Association of State Foresters to restore these programs back to their intended purpose.  After all, emissions from the use of these trucks pale in comparison to the emissions resulting from uncontrolled wildfires.”

Until recently, the surplus military equipment has been made available to state and local governments through two programs, the Federal Excess Property Program (FEPP) and the Firefighter Property Program (FFP). These programs typically result in the transfer of equipment with a total value of approximately $150 million to states and counties.  Over the past five years, Wyoming has been the beneficiary of over $4.5 million in firefighting equipment through these two programs. So far in 2014, 83% of all wildfires have been responded to by state and local fire agencies, even though many of the fires were on federal lands.

While the EPA, Forest Service, and Department of Defense have been attempting to work through the issues that have resulted in halting transfers, the FEPP program in particular remains in limbo.  Approximately 40% of the wildland firefighting equipment in Wyoming was acquired through the FEPP program.

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