The sheriff's office in Johnson County, Ind., used a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle tor eplace its 22-year-old armored 'Peacekeeper' vehicle (left). (Kelly Wilkinson/Indianapolis Star)
The Defense Department has resumed transferring excess military vehicles to civilian emergency personnel after reaching an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency, said Jeffrey Curtis, executive director, logistics operations support for the Defense Logistics Agency.
The 2.5- and 5-ton trucks, Humvees and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles run on diesel engines that do not meet EPA requirements, but the Defense Department has a national security exemption allowing it to use the vehicles, Curtis said. The DLA temporarily halted transfer of the vehicles to first responders on June 19 after becoming aware that the exemption did not carry over once the vehicles were given to first responders.
This prompted a group of 25 lawmakers led by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to write a July 10 letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel saying that the equipment was badly needed by firefighters and other emergency personnel.
“While we understand that DoD and EPA may be close to resolving this issue, we respectfully request that you provide us with your specific course of action for rescinding the restrictions placed on both the FEPP and FPP programs and clarify any vehicle title concerns raised by state foresters and law enforcement agencies,” the letter says.
Curtis said the EPA has allowed the flow of vehicles to emergency personnel to resume because the Defense Logistics Agency agreed to keep the titles indefinitely. Thus, the vehicles retain their exemption from EPA standards after they are given away.
The agreement should not delay when the vehicles can be provided to emergency personnel, nor should it limit what types of vehicles can be transferred, Curtis said.