Military equipment surplus provided to East Texas fire departments to combat wildfires

Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 7:28 AM CDT
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EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - Enormous efforts were made, and are still being made, fighting woodland fires in East Texas, and that requires the use of a lot of resources.

The cost of those efforts means a ‘wear and tear’ on crucial equipment.

But a program to provide more equipment to East Texas fire departments could help ease the strain.

Fighting massive summer wildfires,  manpower and equipment from numerous fire departments and volunteer departments were utilized, supplemented by resources from the Texas A&M forest service and out of state agencies.

“Yeah we know in Texas our fire departments are our first line of defense against wildfires. We’ve got crews, not only local fire departments, but state and federal crews in supplementing our crews in this area to this day,” says Texas A&M forest service regional fir coordinator Matt Burnett.

For some smaller fire departments it’s been a drain on their resources.

In response, the forest service is offering to grant military surplus vehicles.

“Texas A&M forest service has several programs that they benefit from. One of them is our federal surplus program that allows us to take military surplus vehicles and allocate them out to fire departments all across Texas,” Matt says.

The program could be a huge benefit for smaller departments which expended extensive manpower and equipment during the summer fires.

“Mostly it’s the military 2 and a half ton and 5 ton cargo vehicles. Also ‘Humvees’ that are in the program. This is what we do when we’re not on fires ourselves,” says Burnett.

And that’s not all the forest service is doling out.

“Not only do they get the vehicle at no cost, but we also kick in a 20-thousand dollar grant to help them in conversion of the vehicle,” says Matt.

The Texas A&M forest service fire resource centers remain staffed in case of more wildfires.