FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 19, 2021
NH Forest Protection Bureau acquires surplus wildland fire vehicles at no cost for local fire departments
The New Hampshire Forest Protection Bureau has acquired six surplus vehicles from the Federal Excess Personal Property Program that will be loaned to local fire departments to assist with wildland firefighting efforts. This is the largest FEPP acquisition by the Bureau to date.
FEPP makes former Department of Defense-owned property available for loan to state foresters through this U.S. Forest Service program at no cost; the vehicles then may be loaned to rural and wildland fire protection programs.
Items loaned through FEPP may be used for fire protection purposes and emergency service only. Trucks acquired through the program are often suitable for conversation to tankers or brush trucks.
N.H. Forest Protection acquired three five-ton and three 2.5-ton Stewart-Stevenson vehicles that can be retrofitted to hold 1,000-gallon tanks of water and 500-gallon tanks of water, respectively. Typically, vehicles used by local fire departments are limited to 100- or 250-gallon capacities.
The ability to transport large quantities of water to remote wildfires is key to suppression and containment. In addition to increased payload, the Stewart-Stevenson vehicles are able to travel over challenging terrain that consumer-grade vehicles cannot, making them ideal for fighting wildfires in remote areas.
“Being able to facilitate getting these vehicles to New Hampshire and to then loan them to communities that can use their extra capacity will go a long way toward helping reduce potential wildfire damage in our state,” said N.H. Forest Protection Bureau Chief Steven Sherman. “The cost to purchase them would total more than $1 million, so having them as part of New Hampshire’s wildfire fighting toolkit isn’t just good practice, it’s also a win from a fiscal standpoint.”
While fire departments receive the vehicles at no cost, any retrofitting and maintenance is their responsibility. Additionally, the vehicles must be housed indoors, be inspected every two years by the Forest Protection Bureau and clearly display the N.H. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources logo. Failure to do so may result in the Bureau reassigning the vehicles to another fire department.
In order to be eligible for the program, New Hampshire fire departments must demonstrate a need for the vehicles as well as the ability to fund any retrofitting and maintenance costs.
Bartlett, Loudon and Temple will be loaned the 2.5 ton vehicles. Londonderry and Pembroke and will be loaned the five-ton vehicles, with an additional five-ton vehicle yet to be assigned.
The New Hampshire Forest Protection Bureau, part of the N.H. Division of Forests and Lands, is responsible for protecting 4.5 million acres of both public and private New Hampshire forestlands from the threat of wildland fire and crimes against the forest resource. This is accomplished by forest rangers, fire patrolmen, fire tower personnel and support staff as well as the forest fire wardens and deputy wardens serving in each community.
From 2016-2020, New Hampshire experienced an average of 119 wildfires, impacting 276 acres annually.
The N.H. Forest Protection Bureau is part of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources’ Division of Forests and Lands, which protects and promotes the value provided by trees, forests and natural communities. For more information about the Division of Forests and Lands and the work of its Forest Protection Bureau, visit nh.gov/nhdfl or call 603-271-2214.