Bill Introduced to Help Rural Fire Departments Gain Better Access to Federal Excess Property

Washington, D.C. — On September 19, Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), along with 29 other cosponsors, introduced legislation that aims to give rural fire departments across the nation better access to federal excess property. The Rural Fire Department Equipment Priority Act (H.R. 5421) would help provide firefighters with the equipment they need to protect the communities they serve by giving rural fire departments and their cooperators higher priority when Department of Defense excess property is screened.

The Federal Excess Personal Property Program (FEPP), administered by the USDA Forest Service in cooperation with the state foresters, loans excess Federal equipment from other agencies to rural fire departments throughout the nation. However, many other excess equipment programs currently have priority over the FEPP when it comes to allocation of this useful equipment. This legislation would change these inequities and give volunteer and rural fire departments the ability to receive the tools they need to better serve their communities.

“I grew up in a small town, and I live in a small town,” Ross said. “I have seen rural volunteer firefighters in action and I value their service, but I know they will be able to be more effective if they have the opportunity to obtain the equipment they so desperately need. My bill will give rural and volunteer fire departments high priority when excess property from the Department of Defense is available. This property could be anything from nuts and bolts to trucks – equipment our rural firefighters need to do their jobs. It costs our government nothing, and it will protect what we value most; our lives and the lives of those we love.”

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