FEPP DESK GUIDE
The FEPP Congressional authority and the cooperative agreement state that the FEPP program is shared by the State foresters and the USDA Forest Service. The State forester may delegate some FEPP authorities, but must exercise overall responsibility to see that the program is properly managed.
The State forester should sign both the acquisition and disposal documents to assure awareness of activities in the program. This authority may be delegated in writing to another State employee, with a copy of the delegation furnished to the Forest Service PMO.
The State forester must make sure the integrity of the FEPP program is intact through internal controls.
The State forester should have in place sufficient internal controls
to prevent improper use of FEPP. These controls should include, but not
be limited to:
State and Federal managers should assure themselves that personnel who manage or otherwise work with FEPP are properly trained and have a current copy of the desk guide. See Chapter 90 - Property Training for FEPP and Other Fire Needs.
All FEPP is entered when acquired into this computerized program by the Forest Service, for reporting purposes. Only the records of inventoried FEPP, that is, property having an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more or property classified as sensitive, shall remain in PMIS. Each piece of inventoried property in PMIS shall have a unique NFC ID number assigned to it. This number or an alternate number that is cross-referenced to the NFC ID number, determined by the Forest Service PMO and the State, shall be affixed to the property. Only Forest Service employees shall have access to the PMIS system.
Any State not affixing the NFC ID number bar code label to the property item should affix the number to the transfer document (SF-122) or otherwise ensure that no number can be used more than once.
FEPP is Forest Service property and subject to the accountability standards of the USDA and the Forest Service and applicable State standards. All FEPP is accountable property and must be controlled and inventoried according to the required level.
Durable, noncomponent FEPP with an acquisition cost of $5,000 and above, and property designated as sensitive, is subject to biennial inventory and will be entered into the USDA PMIS.
State records will show the location of all inventoried FEPP and will be maintained for at least 3 years following disposal of the FEPP.
Accountability will be exercised through physical inventories, training, reviews, disciplinary action, equipment maintenance, identification tags, and recordkeeping.
Sensitive property is any item of durable property having an original
acquisition cost of less than $5,000 that is highly susceptible to loss
or theft as defined by an agency PMO. The regional or area property management
officer may determine that items are sensitive by considering:
Noninventoried durable or consumable FEPP is entered in PMIS for reporting purposes, but is not assigned an NFC ID number and is not required to be physically inventoried. Effective control over durables and consumable goods such as parts, tires, or building materials is required to meet property management regulation standards. This control should be at least to the level of State-purchased items, but at a minimum shall record issuance of property including recipients and quantities ("Warsehousing" in this chapter). Shelf goods and warehoused items must also be protected from theft and vandalism. When feasible, property should be marked. Users and managers should receive training; policies on use and disciplinary action for misuse should be published and distributed to users and managers.
For purposes of FEPP management, warehousing is defined as managing stocks of consumable or component property by quantities of like items rather than by individual items. State records must be comprehensive enough to account for the quantities of FEPP warehouse items from acquisition to issuance, and must provide reasonable assurance that issuance was to a legitimate recipient. FEPMIS provides adequate records for warehousing.
Auditable records will indicate a beginning balance, account for the quantity of items acquired by transfer order number, account for all items issued by document number (if appropriate) and to whom for what, and provide a current stock quantity.
Effectiveness of overall management depends on the accuracy and compatibility of physical assets and related records. Therefore physical inventories must be conducted at least biennially (more often if need be) to assure the continued correlation between assets and records and to spot system errors that could cause imbalances.
Inventoried FEPP will be identified with a Forest Service assigned property number (NFC ID number) and an FEPP identification tag. An exception to the Forest Service assigned number may be made for a State numbering system that is approved by the Forest Service and cross-referenced in PMIS.
Where practical, noninventoried FEPP will be identified and tagged by yellow and black vinyl tags, aluminum tags, etching, printing, or some other method of visual identification. If the region/area elects, records for noninventoried items, including consumables, may be maintained in PROP by coding it as expendable property, type FEPP2. This property will remain on the PMIS inventory after annual reports are generated.
Biennially, or more often when required by the Forest Service PMO, States are required to physically account for all inventoried FEPP (including sensitive property) and to reconcile their records with Forest Service records.
After completion of the biennial physical inspection, the State forester
is required to sign and return the certification to the Forest Service
with the reconciled inventory. The inventory certification follows:
Items not accounted for in the physical inventory process must be reported on an AD-112, Report of Lost, Stolen, Damaged, or Destroyed Property. Accompanying documentation must detail efforts made to locate the property and any police or other formal reports. The State forester will remain liable for the property until relieved of that liability by the Forest Service PMO. (See "Negligence with FEPP" below.)
When a new State APO (State forester) has been assigned, the Federal
excess property inventory must be reconciled by the new APO. An Inventory
Certification is required. The former APO remains accountable for the
property until the accountability is accepted by another.
Fire protection is the only authorized use of property in this program. Limit nonfire use of FEPP in this program to an unplanned incidental 10 percent or less. FEPP shop machinery and office equipment in use at the State level are not bound by the 10-percent rule if there is a fire protection need. Regional and area PMO's may not make the 10 percent nonfire use standards less restrictive, but for specific types of property, the standards may be more restrictive. State foresters shall justify in writing any nonfire use that exceeds allowable limits. Abuse of the 10-percent nonfire use standard could result in recall of the property on loan, suspension from the program, or other sanctions.
The State forester, the regional PMO, and the FEPP manager shall ensure that FEPP is not put to personal or nonfire use and shall especially monitor the use of house trailers, communications equipment, audiovisual equipment, movable buildings, boats, and aircraft to ensure proper official use.
State foresters are to use FEPP for fire protection; however, situations may occur that make this exclusive use impractical. The FEPP program manager may authorize incidental use of FEPP equipment for activities other than fire protection, within the 10-percent rule. Permit exceptions only when they will not result in abnormal wear and tear of the FEPP.
FEPP may be used during any nonrecurring emergency situations in which there is a threat to life and property. This emergency use must be documented and will not count against the allowed incidental 10-percent nonfire use.
Do not regard these incidental emergency use authorizations as loopholes for general use in other programs.
FEPP is not to be assigned to emergency organizations whose primary mission is other than fire protection.
Fire protection is the only purpose for which the Forest Service can acquire FEPP for use by State forestry agencies without paying a charge equal to 25 percent of the acquisition cost. If equipment or supplies are primarily for nonfire activities and only incidentally for fire protection work, do not obtain them through the Cooperative Fire Protection FEPP Program.
The State forester shall protect and maintain all FEPP at least to the same standard as State-purchased equipment and supplies, implementing maintenance procedures that keep the property in good operating condition. This should also be required for all equipment loaned to the State's local cooperators; that is, FEPP equipment should be protected and maintained to at least the same standards as the cooperators' owned equipment. Of primary consideration is protection from inclement weather, salt air, insects and rodents, vandalism, and theft. FEPP vehicles should be painted in fire service colors, and mechanically maintained using the maintenance standards prescribed in military technical manuals or manufacturers' manuals. See Chapter 70 for a source of military technical manuals.
State FEPP program managers may require more stringent protection and maintenance standards if the situation warrants. Such decisions should be based on specific needs and thoroughly documented.
Most of the equipment used in this program was not originally manufactured for wildland fire protection. State foresters may modify FEPP for fire protection purposes. The FEPP Program Manager shall assist State foresters in modifying military vehicles for fire protection when possible. Organizations such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Roscommon Equipment Center (REC) may also be able to advise on FEPP modification.
FEPP may also be modified by vocational-technical schools, fire organizations, inmate crews, and commercial contractors. In these cases, ensure that no "trades" involving FEPP for work are involved.
Acquire only clothing that is fire-protective, and only if the State forester submits a written justification statement explaining how, when, and by whom the clothing will be used in the State fire program. The regional or area staff director with Cooperative Fire Protection responsibility must be satisfied that the clothing will directly support the State fire program. The staff director shall endorse or reject the justification statement in writing before approving or disapproving the transfer document.
The primary purpose of FEPP is fire protection for rural and wildland America. As more people move into wooded areas, and as more highways traverse rural communities, fire related dangers increase and fire departments take on additional roles.
Even though fire departments have been expanding their roles and missions, the Forest Service and the States need to be guided by the enabling legislation of the FEPP program. This allows providing only items for which the planned use is fire activity (see Chapter 10, FEPP Acquisitions That May Be Loaned To Local Cooperators).
Many fire departments now operate rescue services and hazardous materials response teams. Both of these services are deemed to be proper uses of FEPP, as fire personnel are often the responsible parties for securing the incident and providing assistance in the rescue operations. NOTE: Although deemed proper uses of FEPP, they do not justify the acquisition. Planned use must be fire activity. The Forest Service FEPP program manager will make the final determination on appropriate acquisition and use in this program.
In nonemergency situations, use of FEPP from this program for lifeguards
at swimming areas is unacceptable.
One of the important aspects in managing the FEPP program is the development and maintenance of a complete "audit trail." This involves documentation of every step in the acquisition, assignment, retrieval, and disposal of all FEPP. The use of electronic forms and faxing of forms is permissible.
The documentation process should begin when an item is screened and frozen. Maintain a suspense file to hold copies of submitted SF-122's until approval to pick up the property is received.
Upon receipt of the property, a receipted copy of the SF-122 is sent to the Forest Service regional or area office. At this time, a dual audit trail exists; in the State and at the Forest Service regional or area office.
As soon as practical after property is acquired, it should be assigned a property number (NFC ID number). See "FEPP Identifying Labels" in this chapter for information on physical identification of FEPP. If the State forester's inventory is computerized, FEPP may simply be incorporated into that system, with some method of tagging the records to indicate that the item is FEPP. Having a PMIS number assigned to inventoried FEPP is required. A State control number may also be assigned.
Wherever property is assigned or reassigned, a property transfer document should be prepared with copies going to both parties to the transfer, as well as the property management unit in the State forester's office. There must be prior approval by the Forest Service for the cannibalization of FEPP. If property is lost or stolen, there should be documentation with a police report or other explanation. If property is involved in an accident and is damaged or destroyed, it should be reported to the Forest Service as soon as is practical, by telephone and then in writing.
When disposal is completed, those documents should be filed with other documents related to a specific piece of property and maintained in accordance with FSH 3109.12, Chapter 20.
NOTE: Parts generated by the cannibalization of FEPP must be accounted
for as if they had been acquired separately. See "Noninventoried
Durable and Consumable Property" in this chapter.
The State forester shall ensure that FEPP is not put to personal use, nor to unauthorized nonfire use. (See Nonfire Use and Emergency Use.)
The USDA Forest Service has a special privilege in its legislated authority to loan FEPP to State forestry organizations for fire protection. In order to continue to exercise this authority, the Forest Service and State foresters need to maintain the integrity of the program to minimize criticism from competing agencies.
Areas continually requiring attention are:
State agencies other than forestry which have forest or wildland fire protection responsibilities may have FEPP in this program assigned to them by the State forester. This property should be assigned only to agencies with a fire workload sufficient to warrant the use of FEPP. There should be a signed cooperative agreement between the two State agencies to govern the use and accountability of FEPP. The items eligible for loan are limited to those items to be used in direct fire suppression activities listed in "FEPP Acquisitions That May Be Loaned To Local Cooperators" in Chapter 10 of this guide.
State agencies and organizations not eligible for fire protection FEPP will often pressure fire personnel to make improper assignments of FEPP. Congress has determined property in this program is for fire protection only. Other nonemergency uses of this program open it to criticism. Nonfire users are eligible to get FEPP from their Federal grantors as a part of the grant process with a payment of 25 percent of acquisition cost for FEPP. That is, FEPP for nonfire use must be approved by and obtained from the sponsoring Federal function (e.g., Forest Pest Management, Cooperative Forestry, etc.).
It is permissible to put FEPP and purchased equipment from the Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) program together. An example is a FEPP vehicle with a VFA-purchased engine installed. When such an item is no longer needed, it should be disposed of in accordance with existing direction. Such property should be accounted for in accordance with FSH 3109.12 (for FEPP) and 7 CFR 3016 or 3019 (for Federally purchased grant property).
Using FEPP parts to repair non-FEPP fire equipment is an acceptable practice. The non-FEPP equipment could be purchased or publicly owned equipment that is in service by a fire department or fire district. Cooperative agreements, warehousing principles, and accountability standards apply. Inventoried components should remain on PMIS.
When State- or locally-owned property with FEPP components is sold, the proceeds shall be split between the owning agency and the Federal Government according to the percentage of FEPP components in relationship to the total piece of equipment. The Forest Service PMO may choose to abandon the value of the components, if the cost of handling exceeds the expected return.
The renting of FEPP is not authorized. If FEPP is approved for fire use by another agency, or for emergency use or incidental, unplanned nonfire use, then use charges may be collected. Any use charges may include operating costs such as gas and oil, operator costs if applicable, and possibly transportation costs. Charges may not include amortization, depreciation, replacement costs, modification, start-up costs, or related charges.
There are several options for licensing motor vehicles for State or local use when the title is required:
These are listed in the order of preference. Methods 1 - 5 do not give an apparently clear title to the user (fire district or department) and prevent good faith (but illegal) sale or other disposal. In addition, when a lien is placed against the title, copies of insurance policies and other information will be mailed to the lienholder. Under this arrangement, the vehicles cannot be sold and the insurance company will keep the lienholder advised of any changes or cancellations in insurance coverage.
Cannibalization is the practice of disassembling unserviceable equipment to use serviceable parts on similar units. The removal of any parts other than minor items is cannibalization.
The State foresters have a continuing need to cannibalize unserviceable Forest Service property on loan to them, both to keep similar equipment operable and to modify military equipment for fire protection. Cannibalization of loaned Federal property requires an advance request and approval from the Forest Service on Form AD-112, Report of Unserviceable, Lost, Stolen, Damaged, or Destroyed Property. Cannibalization should be limited to property that is uneconomical to repair and has no value to other users in the program. Cannibalization is a form of use and is not disposal in itself. The equipment will not be removed from property records until it has been disposed of completely. After cannibalization has been completed, Block 5 of the AD-112 should be signed, dated, and returned to the Forest Service with the disposal document.
Some cannibalization will result in several pieces of noninventoried property or in one or more pieces of inventoried property. This will require an adjustment of the property records of the State and the Forest Service. This is accomplished through agreement between both parties to adjust acquisition costs and determine the nomenclatures of the new property item(s).
Again, advanced approval is required to ensure that operable equipment or equipment needed by another unit or agency is not indiscriminantly disassembled or destroyed. Cannibalization should be completed within a reasonable timeframe - normally not to exceed 18 months after the processing of the AD-112. A disposal action will be required for the remaining frame or carcass and a record adjustment. With the approval of the Forest Service, some actions can be authorized on the SF-122 at the time of acquisition. (See "Acquisition Guidelines" for items ineligible for cannibalization).
Inventoried property in the process of cannibalization should remain on the property records. When property is approved for cannibalization, the records should be noted but not otherwise adjusted. Inventoried property acquired for cannibalization (parts only) should be put on the records until disposed of. "Parts only" transactions require Forest Service Regional or area Office approval.
These are actions that cause trouble with the State forester, the USDA Forest Service, USDA-OIG, GAO, the SASP, and other State forestry agencies. Some of these actions could endanger State participation in the FEPP Program.
Unauthorized actions include:
Note: 21/2-ton military frames are not junk. As long as they aren't bent, folded, or mutilated, they are valuable as undercarriages for "monster cars," support beams, foundations, and just plain scrap metal.
The cannibalization and removal of parts is an accepted practice in the FEPP Program. Boneyards house the remaining carcasses of cannibalization and are a by-product of this process. Cannibalization should be held to a minimum, but when cannibalization is necessary, it should be completed in a timely manner, and the remains should be processed for disposal. Boneyards are generally unsightly and could open our program to unnecessary criticism. Cannibalization, including removal of all usable parts, should be accomplished and the remains reported for disposal within 18 months.
Fire departments raise and supplement their revenue in a variety of ways. Subscription fire departments agree to protect a particular property after payment of a subscription fee. Those unwilling or unable to pay the fee are sometimes left unprotected. Subscription fire departments have been known to put out a fire for a nonmember and then bill them. On rare occasions they have stood and watched the homes of nonmembers burn.
Subscription fire departments have left us with a dilemma. On the one hand, they are within their rights to withhold their services, but on the other hand, Federal property and Federal funds are for the benefit of all citizens. Fire departments accepting FEPP equipment should be strongly encouraged to protect the entire community in a nondiscriminatory manner. This should work to the benefit of all, in reduced fire insurance premiums and good community relations. Our program is subject to criticism if our equipment is on restricted service.
Some subscription fire departments are for-profit operations. FMR 102-36.190 allows FEPP to be loaned to cooperative State forest fire control programs. With this in mind, we should not be subsidizing free enterprise by loaning FEPP to any fire department that uses it to make a profit; for example, by leasing or contracting their primary equipment to the State or Forest Service for a profit while using FEPP to "cover" their protection responsibilities.
The regional/area FEPP manager has the final say!
When accidents result in death, injury, illness, or property damage, the State forester must prepare a full accident report, within 10 working days, and send it to the regional or area PMO on Form AD-112, Report of Unserviceable, Lost, Stolen, Damaged, or Destroyed Property, in an original and two copies. A telephone alert prior to the written report is encouraged. In section F, Column B, provide full details of the loss or destruction and efforts made to recover the lost or destroyed item. The regional or area PMO processes the accident report in accordance with FSM 6731.
If damage to FEPP exceeds $1,000 the State forester submits form AD-112 to the regional or area PMO within 10 working days with details of the circumstances.
The PMO processes the form in accordance with the procedures applicable to all other Forest Service property and completes section E of Form AD-112. See "Negligence with FEPP" in this chapter.
State foresters report theft to local law enforcement authorities immediately upon discovery. Report all stolen property to the regional or area PMO on Form AD-112, Report of Unserviceable, Lost, or Damaged Property, and provide details of the case, the condition of the item(s), and actions taken to recover the item(s). Answer the basic questions of who, what, where, how, and when. Include the name of the person assigned the property, time and date (or approximate date) of theft, and last known location on form AD-112, and attach a copy of the police report. The regional or area PMO completes section E of form AD-112.
When Forest Service personal property on loan to a State is lost, damaged, or stolen, a determination is required whether there was negligence on the part of a legitimate operator or custodian. The State forester shall make a recommendation to the Forest Service regional/area PMO whether or not there was negligence or gross negligence.
NEGLIGENCE: If the regional/area PMO determines that negligence was the cause of loss or damage, the responsible State employee should be subject to the State's administrative regulations; a non-State employee operator/custodian should be subject to administration penalties of the sponsoring unit. No monetary charge shall be made by the Forest Service against the employee, the non-State entity, or the State.
Repeated instances of negligent damage to FEPP by employees of any State agency or non-State operators/custodians may be cause for the Forest Service to suspend further acquisitions by the State for that entity until the reasons for the negligence are identified and steps taken to prevent further instances.
GROSS NEGLIGENCE: If the regional/area PMO determines that there is apparent gross negligence (intentional, willful, or wanton failure to exercise a reasonable degree of care to protect property in one's custody in reckless disregard of the consequences of the actions) on the part of a State employee or a non-State operator/custodian, the findings plus all supporting documentation shall be forwarded by the regional/area PMO to the National FEPP Program Officer in the Washington Office for a final determination.
If the final determination is one of gross negligence, the State shall reimburse the Federal Government for the fair market value of the property, or repair or replace the property at the State's expense. The State's decision to reimburse, repair, or replace should be submitted for approval by the regional/area PMO prior to implementation.
Fair market value is defined in the Federal Management Regulations at CFR 102-36.40. If the property is damaged beyond repair, but has salvage value, the STATE may deduct from its reimbursement the salvage value recovered by the Federal Government.
Agreements between the State and local fire departments or other entities for the sub-loan of property should address issues of negligence and gross negligence, taking into account the Forest Service policy above.
A Forest Service finding of gross negligence should not be the basis of State action against a State employee.
States shall not be held liable for loss or damage resulting from criminal activity on the part of any State employee unless State actions contributed to the situation.
NOTE: This section does not apply to property lost due to general mismanagement practices or policies. It is intended to apply to incidents or accidents which result in loss or damage.
The USDA Forest Service and the State forestry organization have a responsibility to see that all FEPP equipment, especially vehicles, is modified in a safe manner. Trucks fitted with tanks and pumps should not be loaded in excess of the manufacturers' standards. The tank and pump should not create a high center of gravity or unduly tax the brakes or the steering system.
There is a tendency to overload military vehicles under the mistaken belief that they can safely carry twice their gross vehicle weight rating. In converting fuel transport vehicles to water transports, for example, consider the weight differences of the materials. A tank designed to transport 4,000 gallons of fuel may not support the same amount of water. There is also a tendency to use old fuel oil and milk tanks that are unbaffled and made for slow-moving nonemergency vehicles. All water tanks should be baffled in accordance with NFPA Standard 1901. The Roscommon Equipment Center program provides plans to safely convert military vehicles to fire vehicles. See Chapter 80 for more information.
The Forest Service furnishes yellow vinyl labels and aluminum tags to identify FEPP as Federal property. These two forms of identification can be used together; the yellow tag for visibility and the metal tag for durability. The metal tag has a clear plastic sheet that should be lifted before writing on the tag. Use a permanent marker, such as the 3M audiovisual marker. The metal tags can also be embossed with hand-held metal dies or etched with a pen or other pointed object.
The metal tags may be affixed to FEPP with the adhesive backing or with screws, nails, or pop rivets. Caution should be used when mounting metal tags on tanks, cylinders, and other containers.
The metal tags and vinyl tags are equal; one does not replace the other. They should be mounted where they are visible to remind people they are looking at or using Federal property.
The vinyl tags are available from the USDA Forms Warehouse as Forest Service Forms FS-3100-3, FS-3100-3a, and FS-3100-3b. The Forest Service region/area should order the vinyl tags for the State foresters. The Forest Service Region/area should be advised when tags are needed.
There are several lists of parts for military equipment, primarily vehicles. There are military technical manuals on all military equipment, for guidance in the operation, parts acquisition, and maintenance. Parts for military vehicles and aircraft may be purchased through the FEDSTRIP/MILSTRIP system directly from DoD depots. (See Chapter 70 of this guide for information on purchasing technical manuals.) Vehicle parts are also sold by Memphis Equipment, Rex Tex, and other commercial sources.
Several States (including Montana and Nebraska) have developed parts lists to aid in the acquisition of parts from military and commercial sources.
Cooperative agreements between the State and fire districts require that liability insurance be carried. Methods of insuring FEPP vehicles include:
Choosing procedure number 1 above, or placing a lien against the vehicle title, are ways the State forester can stay informed on the status of insurance coverage.
Fire departments must carry liability insurance but are not required to carry collision insurance or other damage coverage on their FEPP equipment. Sometimes FEPP damage or destruction is covered by the insurance of either the department or another party. Because this equipment may comprise property owned by both the Forest Service and the fire department, insurance proceeds shall be shared accordingly. The insurance proceeds on the FEPP portion are payable to the Forest Service, and must be either used to repair the item, or forwarded to the Forest Service. Any excess funds should be forwarded to the Forest Service.
Any portion of the proceeds that is due the Forest Service for a totaled item may be returned to the fire department for the purchase of a replacement item or for the modification of a replacement FEPP item. The Forest Service would have equity in the replacement item to the extent of its share of the proceeds (7 CFR 3016).
The Forest Service share of the insurance proceeds may be returned to the U.S. Treasury Miscellaneous Receipts if there is no valid reason to return the funds to the fire department. Sometimes the insurance company will require that a damaged FEPP vehicle be turned over to them in order to settle the insurance claim. This action can be documented like a small lot sale. Any action taken with insurance proceeds should be adequately documented and done with Forest Service approval.
FEPP Desk Guide December 2000