By Tia Lynn Ivey, Managing Editor
Just $200 bought the Morgan County Fire and Rescue (MCFR) a military truck and generator with a combined worth of $132,000.
According to Fire Chief Jeff Stone, the new equipment from the a federal surplus program, could “easily cost between $250,000 to $300,000 [for the truck] and $75,000 [for the generator].”
The new truck, which must be transformed by the county into a proper apparatus for the fire department, will replace one of the aging “knocker” trucks. The county is hoping more trucks from the federal surplus program will become available to help replace the fire department’s aging fleet.
“We currently have 10 Knockers in service throughout the county. To replace those under normal means would cost somewhere around $1.2 million,” explained Stone. “If we can acquire more of the military vehicles, we can replace the knockers for about $100,000. The department and I feel these are a great savings to the county taxpayers. With an extremely aging fleet of vehicles (units as old as the 1970s and 1980s), our maintenance cost continues to rise each year just to keep our current fleet in-service. Utilizing federal surplus, which many people already feel is waste of taxes at the federal level, at least provides some saving in local dollars.”
The new truck is a 1995 Light Military Transport Vehicle (LMTV), also know as an M-1078. The Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) oversees the federal surplus program for the State of Georgia and disperses equipment on a first come first serve basis.
“In the case of the recently acquired military truck we received; it was in excellent condition,” said Stone. “This is the military’s general work horse truck. The truck we received has 4,200 miles on it. During the screening process, we were also able to acquire a 60 Kw generator. It only had six –yes, six hours on the meter. That is basically the run test hours from the factory.”
The county only paid a $100 transfer fee for each piece of equipment. However, to follow the federal surplus program rules, the county will have to spend 10,000 to $15,000 to transform the truck and stock it with the necessary equipment to fight fires.
According to Stone, the county must have the truck “de-militarized,” meaning the camo or desert tan colors cannot remain and must be painted. The county must letter or mark the vehicle and the vehicle must be placed in service within six months of acquiring.
“A pre-formed water tank and pump through an outside company will provide the extinguishment capabilities plus storage compartments,” said Stone. “They build a skid unit that simple bolts right down on the bed of the truck, you fill it with water and foam and the truck is operational. The tank will hold 1,000 gallons of water plus a side foam tank. This is a huge savings from going through the old RFD program which is a joint program with the forestry commission. The apparatus (like our current knockers) are co-owned…But through the surplus program, after one year, the equipment and truck belong to us completely.”