Nebraska Firefighters Modifying Military Rigs for New Uses

March 4, 2024
The volunteer fire departments must paint and add tanks within six months.

Many unused miitary transport vehicles aren't sitting in fields rusting. Their being modified for new uses by volunteer firefighters in Nebraska. 

"There are roughly 480 fire districts in the state of Nebraska. We have equipment in just about 350 fire districts," Lew Sieber, the Nebraska Forest Service Shop manager, told KETV. 

Twice a day, Sieber scavenges over a federal website for equipment. 

"They are done with it. It's excess to them. So, I requisitioned it, brought it in here," Sieber said.

The departments have six months to paint it and make modifications such as putting on water tanks, pumps and fire gear. They also foot the bill for repairs and transportation. 

"Basically, it makes an excellent off-road firefighting platform," Sieber said adding that over the years the program has saved Nebraska taxpayers over $100 million and allowed agencies to update their equipment.

"If this program wasn't here, all these small departments would be in big trouble, especially with the, you know, the flooding and the fires are getting worse and they're getting bigger," Mead Volunteer Fire Dept. Chief Nick Raver said.

Raver said these two rigs they got from the Forest Service Program would have cost over $1 million. Instead, they got them for just over a tenth of the cost.

"It's the only line of defense we have that we can afford without it. It would be a it'd be a bad deal," Raver said.

When the departments are done with the apparatus, it goes back to the government or, if scrapped, the money goes back into the program.