From the Arkansas Forestry Commission:
“The Arkansas Forestry Commission (AFC) Rural Fire Protection (RFP) Program provides specialized equipment, training, and loans to qualifying rural fire departments across Arkansas. Reports from a recent review by the U.S. Forest Service reveal Arkansas as the leader, surpassing all other states in the U.S., for the total value of federal excess property acquired by the program as of 2014.
“The Rural Fire Protection Program was designed to support, train, and equip our strongest partners in wildland fire suppression and community safety – firefighters. We are proud to see equipment going to rural areas that adds water supply, as well as general tools and supplies, decreases response time, and enhances the overall safety of Arkansas communities. We are especially proud to know that Arkansas was a leader in 2014 for acquiring equipment that makes Arkansans safer,” said John Blackburn, RFP Coordinator.
Firefighting equipment acquired by the AFC RFP program includes an array of items such as tanker trucks, pumper trucks, brush trucks, fire boats, generators, and smaller gear and tools like personal protective equipment, helmets, gloves, lights, general shop tools, tires, nozzles, and more. Most of this equipment would be unattainable by rural fire departments because of cost constraints, if this program did not exist.
In March and April of this year, the RFP Program provided firefighting vehicles and/or generators to 29 fire departments, across 22 counties; five interest-free loans, totaling $80,551; and, general firefighting equipment valued at over $67,000 from the RFP Program Warehouse at Greenbrier.
Last year (2014), 107 firefighting vehicles were distributed across the state, all valued at $9,900,661.63; 16 interest-free loans were financed for fire crews to transform Department of Defense equipment into firefighting equipment, totaling $200,219.66; and Wildland Fire Suppression Kits were provided to 34 communities, totaling $102,000 in added wildland fire equipment to statewide crews.
Where does it all come from? Resources made available through the RFP Program is Department of Defense excess property vehicles and equipment that is provided to the U.S. Forest Service through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two federal agencies. The U.S. Forest Service then authorizes the AFC to oversee the distribution of this equipment through the RFP Program. RFP personnel screen for and coordinate the pick-up of federal excess property from across the country, within those agency parameters. Fire departments may apply for equipment at anytime through RFP Headquarters in Greenbrier; provided that they are in compliance with Federal Regulations. Equipment is then distributed as evenly and quickly as possible, to meet fire department requests on file.
Beyond equipment and loan opportunities, the RFP Program administers the 8-hour Wildland Firefighter Class, and helps to plan, organize, and host the upcoming annual Arkansas Fire Boat School (May 29-30at DeGray Lake) – training for statewide fire boat crews, and hosts an annual fall fire show and cookout for Arkansas firefighters.”
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Kelly.