Fire departments can obtain surplus government fire trucks
June 15, 2004
By Bill Killen
There are more than 400 fire and emergency services departments serving Navy, Marine Corps, Army, Air Force and Defense Logistics Agency installations worldwide. Annual fire apparatus acquisitions vary among federal agencies. From 1985 to 2003, Navy fire apparatus acquisitions averaged $5–7 million annually for structural fire apparatus, and other DoD components’ fire apparatus acquisitions were similar.
When new fire apparatus is placed in service, older trucks are transferred from front line service to reserve status. The oldest trucks (usually in reserve status) are sent to the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service for disposal.
Many municipal and volunteer fire and emergency services departments obtain surplus government property through the Federal Surplus Personal Property Donation Programs.
Understanding the policies and procedures for disposal of government personal property, as well as the procedures for obtaining surplus property, will enhance the process. It will also reduce the amount of time required for obtaining surplus property.
The Department of Defense (DoD) vehicle replacement criteria used by all military departments is based on the age and mileage expectancies. The criteria provide a systematic and uniform schedule of eligibility for replacement planning and is used when considering the replacement, overhaul or retention of a vehicle.
Life expectancy for Navy fire fighting vehicles ranges from seven years for Airfield Rescue Fire Fighting (ARFF) Twin Agent units to up to 15 years for aerial ladder trucks. Structural pumpers, brush trucks and Telesquirt pumpers have a life expectancy of 12 years. Thousand-gallon ARFF vehicles have an eight-year life expectancy, while the 3,000-gallon ARFF vehicle life expectancy is 12 years. The 6,000-gallon ARFF vehicles placed in service by the Air Force and Navy in the early 1980s are being phased out of service and replaced by 3,000-gallon vehicles.
The decision to replace, overhaul or retain fire fighting vehicles depends on available procurement funds, new advances in technology, cost of overhaul and local requirements. As a rule, DoD structural pumpers remain in the system an average of 18-20 years. ARFF vehicles have remained in service up to 25 years. Quite often, structural fire fighting vehicles available through the surplus personal property program are 18-20 years old and have low mileage.
Department of Defense (DoD) procedures require that property excess to the requirements of a military department be reported to the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service (DRMS). DRMS is a primary level field activity of the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). The DRMS mission is to provide the Department of Defense (DoD) with services for the disposal of material no longer needed for national defense, comply with legislative and regulatory requirements, protect the public good from dangerous defense items and pursue maximum value for tax dollars. This mission includes responsibility for property reuse (including resale), hazardous property disposal, demilitarization, precious metals recovery and recycling program support.
In fiscal 2000, nearly $4 billion worth of property was reutilized, transferred or donated. Property that is not reutilized, transferred or donated may be sold to the public as surplus. The National Sales Office sells large quantities of widely advertised, high-value property, such as aircraft parts, primarily through sealed bid.
Local sales are held at DMRS field offices, called Defense Reutilization and Marketing Offices (DRMOs), located on or near U.S. military installations worldwide.
After this screening process, any surplus property may be made available to the public either through the federal surplus personal property program or the DoD surplus equipment sales program. Pamphlets explaining the procedures for acquiring surplus equipment through the programs are available from:
Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service, National Sales Office, PO Box 5275 DDRC, 2163 Airways Blvd., Memphis, TN 38114-5210; or from General Services Administration, Property Management Division (FBP), Washington, D.C. 20406.
Persons interested in acquiring surplus property may contact their state agencies for surplus property for additional information. This office works as an agent of the General Services Administration in establishing eligibility and assisting state and local governments and other organizations in obtaining excess federal property through the donation program. Addresses and telephone numbers of State Agencies for Surplus Property are available at www.billkillen.net/surplus.html.
Bill Killen is the director of Navy Fire and Emergency Services and is the IAFC’s second vice president.
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