Left: Jordan Valley Rangeland Protection Association volunteers in Malheur County with excess federal equipment obtained through ODF's help. These were used to help JVRPA fight the Bowden Fire earlier this year.
With land often owned in a checkerboard fashion in many parts of Oregon, a fire starting on lands not protected by ODF can soon endanger lands the agency does protect. That is one reason ODF supports rural fire entities. One way the agency has been doing that is through requesting excess equipment from the federal government and channeling it to local fire districts to refurbish and use. Last year, ODF funneled $9 million worth of equipment to local firefighting organizations statewide.
Mike McKeen is ODF coordinator for the Federal Excess Property Program and Federal Firefighter Program (FFP). McKeen says the FEPP has been around since the 1970s and handles all kinds of excess federal equipment. ODF obtains the equipment through the U.S. Forest Service, which retains ownership but allows the item to be permanently loaned to local jurisdictions. The FFP is newer, having begun in 2010. It distributes only military excess property, which becomes permanent property of the fire district after a year of being in service.
While the program has benefited rural fire districts across the state, nowhere has the equipment been more welcome than in the wide expanses of eastern Oregon's rangelands.
A case in point is the Jordan Valley Rangeland Fire Protection Association. One of 22 organizations set up since 1964 to fight fires on Oregon's rangelands, Jordan Valley's volunteers are responsible for protecting 2.5 million acres in Malheur County - an area larger than most ODF fire districts.
"They have a huge amount of ground to cover," said McKeen.
Through ODF, Jordan Valley has received equipment from both the Federal Excess Personal Property (FEPP) and Fire Fighter Program (FFP). With ODF's help, Jordan Valley has obtained 19 pieces of excess federal equipment ranging from Type 6 engines to 5,000-gallon water tank trailers, truck tractors and a D7G bulldozer.
The value of all this equipment? Just the equipment from the federal Fire Fighter Program had an original value of $1,172,000, according to McKeen.