DNR Forestry Division program helps small communities
Contact: Casey McCoy, DNR Forestry southern region fire specialist, 507-359-6048; Tim Oland, DNR rural fire programs coordinator, 218-322-2688; Dale Johnson III, Tracy Fire Department chief, 507-829-4040
Firefighters in Tracy are a little better equipped to fight fires, thanks to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources rural fire department program. The DNR rural fire program helped the small volunteer fire department acquire military surplus equipment, saving the Tracy Fire Department hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The 28-member Tracy Fire Department acquired a Freightliner chassis from the Department of Defense with the DNR’s help and transformed into a 2,200 gallon water tender for a total cost of just under $40,000. A comparable truck will typically have a price tag well in excess of $200,000.
“We’re really grateful for this program,” commented Tracy Fire Chief Dale Johnson III. “We’re a small department that relies on fundraising to supplement the budget the city gives us. Raising a large amount of money for new equipment is a tall task. It would have been very difficult to meet our needs without it.”
The DNR rural fire department program administers several programs, including the Department of Defense program that Tracy used. The Department of Defense Firefighter Property Program gives authority to the DNR’s Forestry Division so it can acquire excess military equipment and transfer it to fire departments and emergency service agencies.
The Department of Defense Firefighter Property Program is one of several programs the DNR administers to assist small, rural fire departments with things like purchasing excess property, matching grants and providing wildfire training.
“Our DNR rural fire program helps small fire departments,” said DNR rural fire programs coordinator Tim Oland. “But what’s really important is that these firefighters are better equipped, and as a result, both the fire crews and community are safer.”
Priority is given to fire departments that have the greatest need and participate in a community wildfire protection plan or a county all hazard mitigation plan. Additional considerations include the type of project and number of fire calls. Oland estimates that nearly $6.5 million of surplus equipment will be delivered to rural fire departments in Minnesota this year.
For more information rural fire department assistance programs, wildfire prevention and current wildfire information, visit mndnr.gov/grants/ruralfire.