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Rural Fire Dept’s Getting Burned By DOD & EPA

Rural fire departments, often on the front lines of wildfires, are now getting burned by the federal government.

And it could cost residents in small towns more than just their safety.

The Department Of Defense (DOD) is ending a program that donated their old trucks to rural fire departments that have small budgets.

There are 8,812 of those vehicles across Oklahoma, according to the Oklahoma Insurance Department (OID).

DOD has an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which says vehicles that don’t meet EPA emission standards will now be destroyed, instead of donated.

The OID does not like the idea, saying emissions from wildfires that burn houses are much more dangerous to the environment than diesel engines.

They say when the number of fire trucks goes down in a community, insurance premiums for those residents go up.

“They’re going to go up because the level of fire protection is going down,” Kevin Stoneking, with the Insurance Services Office of the OID, said. “If the fire protection goes down, the insurance companies are most at risk and they’re going to lose more property.”

Luther Fire Chief Jason Miller says half his fleet are donated military trucks, with a value of nearly $400,000.

“I’m running it through my head. What am I gonna do?” he said Thursday, “and right now with the tax base we have here, I don’t really know.”

Miller is holding out hope that the DOD decision will be reversed.

Some lawmakers are pushing for more funding for rural fire departments – and urging everyone to support their local volunteer firefighters.