NORMAN — Oklahoma’s senior U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe is a hero to many rural fire departments this week. Sen. Inhofe brokered a way for the firefighters to continue receiving surplus military vehicles for firefighting.
The popular program, which put nearly 9,000 pieces of equipment on the ground in Oklahoma, had been scheduled to end before Sen. Inhofe stepped in. The old plan called for equipment to be sold at surplus auction when fire departments no longer needed it and the money returned to the federal government.
Under the new plan, the equipment must now be returned to the federal government when it’s no longer in use.
Some officials think that could create a storage issue for the state if the federal government doesn’t get around to picking the old stuff up in a timely manner. We don’t think that’s a major hurdle. Governments have lots of parked vehicles that haven’t run in years.
The rift came when the Defense Department said it was cancelling the program because it had agreed to get ride of vehicles that didn’t meet EPA standards.
Most rural fire departments operate on a shoestring anyway. The $13 million to $15 million in equipment that the change would have taken away might have spelled the end for many of them.
Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.