July 31, 2015 - Del Birdwell, Resource Specialist II with the Texas A&M Forest Service, delivered a 1991 military truck to the Shelbyville Volunteer Fire Department (SVFD) on Friday, July 31, 2015. Accepting the truck on behalf of the fire department was Fire Chief Chris Koltonski; Assistant Chief Luke Matthews, and Secretary/Treasurer Mark 'Poss' Cagle.
The Shelbyville VFD plans to convert the truck into a tanker truck which is estimated to cost the department approximately $30,000 and includes painting and installation of a 1,500 gallon tank and pump on the bed of the truck. Koltonski was thankful for the truck which is in excellent condition with less than 12,000 miles on its diesel engine. He compared the cost of modifying the truck to the cost of a new tanker truck which is $200,000.
SVFD also plans to demolish the brick building located behind the department and build a structure which will house the new tanker truck once finished.
The truck was received through the Department of Defense Firefighter Property Program (DoD-FFP) which is a Federal Property Program, managed by the Texas A&M Forest Service and is for rural fire departments all over the state. Fire departments submit an application and are graded on a scale or rating system. Vehicles are acquired from the military and are assessed before assignment to make sure they are usable as fire trucks.
Birdwell described the FFP Program and new changes, "The new part of the program is they have 180 days to paint it a non-military color. [SVFD] plans are to put a tank on it and after a year [of service] it actually belongs to the fire department. The old program, it wasn't quite like that, the government retained ownership of it the duration of the piece of equipment's life. But now they have changed it up. So, this will actually be theirs within a year. All they have to do is supply the insurance on it and its theirs."