Rural fire departments in Washington are fighting wildfires this season with tools passed down by the state Department of Natural Resources.
Ten districts and departments are receiving surplus fire engines used exclusively for fighting wildfires. They include four fire districts in Stevens County and three in Okanogan County.
This is the second year for the program. DNR gave away 19 fire trucks last year.
“It’s a great partnership because we can’t fight fire without our local fire districts. These folks have all the heat and the initial attacks right when a fire occurs," said DNR spokeswoman Janet Pearce. "Our old engines are being used to give to these fire departments and districts and to be able to help them strengthen their ability to fight fire since they’re in wildfire-prone areas.”
Fire districts and departments are eligible if their county’s median household income is below the state average. Before DNR was authorized by the legislature last year to give older engines to rural districts, the apparatus were sent to other fire agencies.
“They’re not state of the art, but they are in fairly great condition," Pearce said. "Then, the fire districts kind of fix them up and some of them are ready to roll as soon as they receive it.”
Many old DNR fire rigs have seen plenty of action this year. As of July 31, agency firefighters responded to nearly 900 wildfires which have burned 113,000 acres. In all of 2017, it responded to about 50 fewer fires.