MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Opinion

July 15, 2014

Restoring supply line right thing

Restoring the pipeline from the U.S. military to rural fire departments was the right thing to do.

A longstanding program that sent millions of dollars worth of surplus equipment, including fire engines, to rural fire departments throughout the nation was discontinued recently.

That would have been devastating to volunteer departments who struggle to scrape together funds to fight fires.

The reversal of the Department of Defense’s decision comes with an annoying caveat.

Fire departments must now return the firefighting equipment at the end of its lifespan.

At least one Oklahoma official does not like this new crimp.

Mark Goeller, the assistant state forestry services director, says Oklahoma fire departments do not have the space to store old equipment while waiting on the feds to pick it up.

That very well could be true. Volunteer fire departments are not flush with funds or storage areas.

The alternative is much worse.

Rural fire departments need the equipment to save lives and property.

A new provision could be worked out — say if the feds can’t pick up the equipment in 30 days, the fire departments have the right to sell the equipment.

In the meantime, there must be places — possibly private property — to store the equipment while waiting on the feds.

Having to store old equipment on your property for an extended time is worth being able to continue to get equipment from the military.

It’s a small inconvenience when compared to the possibility of watching your home burn down because firefighters were not properly equipped.

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