Hiawatha National Forest’s retired vehicles will help local communities

Signing the exchange of fire truck
Brenda Dale, zone fire management officer looks on as Fire Chief Amy Jere signs the transfer papers. USDA Forest Service photo.

MICHIGANHiawatha National Forest completed the process of transferring two fire engines and a law enforcement vehicle to local communities. The vehicles, which were being replaced through the USDA Forest Service’s normal fleet replacement cycle, were of interest to support community firefighting and law enforcement operations.

The two Type 6 fire engines were donated to Superior Township Fire Department in Brimley and to Mathias Township Fire Department in Trenary. Such donations are authorized by the Federal Excess Personal Property program. USDA Forest Service fire equipment is fully depreciated at the end of its life-cycle, which helps make it possible for the agency to provide it free of cost to communities.

The law enforcement vehicle was sold to the Iosco Sheriff’s Department using a fixed price agreement authorized through another program. In this case, the Department acquired the vehicles for $7,400– the amount needed to pay off the remaining balance on the vehicle's original purchase, which is significantly less than the fair market value of $13,500-$15,000.

Hiawatha’s fleet manager, Joe Lenoir, explained the process. “The General Services Administration and state surplus programs allow the Forest Service to establish a fixed price agreement with local municipalities in order to transfer reliable assets at very fair and reasonable prices.”

How does the fixed price agreement work? Instead of a typical auction, the local municipality pre-agrees to the fixed price set by the federal agency selling the vehicle. The municipality then works with the State of Michigan’s Federal Surplus Property Program to set up a credit line and route funding to the federal agency (in this case, the Forest Service). While the process can sometimes be challenging, Lenoir is enthusiastic about the opportunity to be a good neighbor and provide excellent customer service.

“It works best if the local governmental unit is registered with the state authority before beginning the process,” noted Lenoir, “but in the end, it feels great to see a used vehicle go to a local government where it can help them improve their community.”

Hiawatha National Forest staff hopes the transferred vehicles will benefit local communities for years to come.

“We see this kind of thing as simply being good neighbors, plus it means that even after our vehicles leave our hands they can continue to provide service to our local customers,” said Hiawatha Forest Supervisor Cid Morgan.