Rural Fire Defense
About Rural Fire Defense
Oklahoma is divided into 11 Rural Fire Protection Districts. The SWODA Rural Fire Defense (RFD) program was established in 1983 to provide technical assistance and equipment to new and established rural fire departments within the eight-county SWODA region, which includes Beckham, Custer, Greer, Harmon, Jackson, Kiowa, Roger Mills and Washita Counties. There are 64 fire departments in the SWODA region.
The SWODA RFD coordinator works with existing fire departments to improve their fire protection services. He advises fire departments on Insurance Service Office/Commercial Risk Service (ISO/CRS) requirements necessary to lower insurance rates. The coordinator also organizes and develops new fire departments or districts in areas currently receiving poor or nonexistent fire protection services. Mutual aid agreements between the fire organizations are encouraged in order to obtain fire protection coverage for the entire SWODA area.
The Oklahoma Forestry Services Division, part of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food & Forestry, provides leadership and support for the SWODA RFD program. Forestry provides technical assistance to the SWODA region in district-wide fire prevention, suppression, and fire planning. Forestry also supplies fire departments with federal excess property as authorized by the Coordinator.
All rural fire districts in the SWODA region have cooperative agreements with the Oklahoma Forestry Services and use Federal Excess Property Program (FEPP) equipment as part of their arsenal of fire fighting equipment. This FEPP equipment remains the property of the U.S. Forest Service and must be returned to the Oklahoma Forestry Service to be disposed of through the U.S. Government's General Services Administration agency.
The Fire Fighters Property (FFP) program took the place of FEPP April 1, 2006. The same type of property is acquired from the federal government by a fire department. However, the title will be passed to the fire department if the department complies with the terms of the loan agreement.
The fire department is obligated to have vehicles and equipment in service within 180 days of receipt. The vehicles and equipment must be painted red, yellow or white. The vehicle must have liability insurance coverage before being taken on the highway.
The Rural Fire Defense Program maintains a Revolving Equipment fund. Fire departments may purchase new protective clothing including wildland suits, hose, nozzles, pumps and other equipment from Forestry. Prices are usually equal to, or lower than vendor prices due to volume bidding.
The Oklahoma Department of Central Services Risk Management Division has liability, property and casualty insurance for fire departments. The cost of Risk Management insurance is often significantly lower than, insurance from commercial insurance companies.
Are there tax credits for volunteer fire fighters?
Yes. There are currently two training incentive programs for Oklahoma’s volunteer firefighters.
Visit the Council On Firefighters Training (COFT) website for more information about tax credit programs for volunteer fire fighters. Tax form downloads are also available on the COFT site.
Are there grants available to fire departments?
Yes, there are grants available. Mark Gardner, SWODA Rural Fire District Coordinator, can direct a fire department toward potential grant opportunities. Three frequent referrals are: