A partnership between the Department of Defense and the Georgia Forestry Commission allows local fire departments to acquire military-surplus equipment and vehicles.
Liberty and Long County Chief Ranger David Duke said that about a year ago, the DoD’s Firefighter Property Program enabled the Eastern District Fire and Rescue in Sunbury to acquire a Freightliner tractor-trailer and 5,000-gallon water tanker.
Chris Roberts, Ranger II, said the truck was acquired from Fort Stewart, and the tanker was acquired from Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina. Duke explained that the program allows a fire department to request a specific item. He said officials search all over Georgia and have even gone as far away as Fort Bliss, Texas, to pick up surplus equipment.
When that item is available from a DoD installation, Duke said it is screened by Georgia Forestry, then given to the fire department. He said the fire department has six months to put the equipment or vehicle in service, which includes removing and painting over any military identification. His department conducts a status inspection of the vehicle, then a follow-up compliance inspection
12 months later. After the compliance inspection, the equipment becomes the property of the fire department.
Duke, Roberts and Steve Campbell, Ranger II, visited Eastern District Fire and Rescue on April 7 to complete their compliance inspection and turn the vehicle’s title over to department Chief Joseph Martin.
“We’ve had the truck and the trailer for approximately one year now,” Martin said. “It’ll be turned over to us after the final inspection … It’s a 2008 all-wheel-drive truck. The stainless-steel water tank is a 2011 (model). It was originally a fuel tanker, but we converted it to carry and pump water.”
Martin said his department has used the tanker truck off-road several times to help put out brush fires, and it has been used as far away as Hazlehurst to help extinguish structure fires. He said his department is a volunteer two full-time paramedics from Liberty Regional Medical Center. Having surplus equipment in such excellent condition is greatly appreciated, he said.
The truck and tanker were not free. Martin said, however, that they came at a good price. As part of the program, his department had to pay $100 for the truck and $100 for the tanker.
The community’s support has more than made up for that expense, he said.
“We started doing this about three years ago,” Roberts said.
“We’ve probably dealt with about $12 million worth of equipment for fire departments so far. We’re looking all over for equipment that can be adapted for fire and rescue-type equipment. We’ve actually found ready-to-go fire trucks, ladder trucks and ambulances. Some departments have turned military 5-ton trucks into brush trucks.”
Duke said he also has acquired military surplus property for the Ludowici-Long County Fire Department.
Following the compliance inspection April 7, Duke and Roberts presented Martin with the Georgia Certificate of Title for the truck and tanker.