New Federal Agreement Could Affect Oklahoma Rural Fire Departments

Several rural fire departments across Oklahoma could be affected by a new agreement between two U.S. agencies.

Members of the U.S. Department of Defense and the Environmental Protection Agency signed an agreement Wednesday that calls for a halt to providing no-cost surplus military vehicles and equipment to fire departments across the country, including Oklahoma.

"This will have a major impact on Oklahoma's rural fire departments," Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak stated. "Many are already on extremely tight budgets and struggling to get all the equipment they need. They don't have the money to buy new or even used vehicles in many cases. Without access to these DoD vehicles and other equipment, many Oklahoma fire departments will find it difficult to operate."

Oklahoma forestry officials estimate there are currently more than 8,800 vehicles and pieces of equipment obtained through the program being utilized by rural fire departments in Oklahoma. Officials added that the halt is based on an agreement aimed at reducing emissions.

Officials added that greenhouse gas emissions from such vehicles "are marginal at best compared to emissions of an uncontrolled wildfire."