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Finding Your Funding - Part III: Surplus Equipment Programs

by Dawn Kennedy
EMA Emergency Management, EMS Emergency Medical Services, FD Fire Departments, Law Enforcement, badges article logo label

Editor’s note: This is the final installment of the three-part feature on finding funding for your department and covers federal programs that sell and donate surplus equipment to responder agencies. Part I addressed how to find and apply for grants and is available here: Part II covered how your department can apply for Non-Profit status and is available here:

Federal programs, managed through state administrators, are available to help first responder agencies find and acquire surplus federal equipment. Through the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), surplus military equipment is made available for purchase to the general public, transfer to law enforcement agencies (1033 Program), and to firefighting agencies (DoD Firefighter Property Program). Agencies must register for an account and, depending on the program, can “shop” for equipment, submit bids for purchase, or request a transfer to the agency property books. There is a learning curve if your agency is unfamiliar with acronyms, such as “NSN” (National Stock Number), and how to search within the system. The website has helpful downloadable guides and phone numbers available to help agencies get started.

Some limitations are placed on certain equipment; for example, weapons transferred to Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) cannot be sold or used as collateral, and certain vehicles under the Federal Excess Property Program are on “loan” so ownership does not transfer to the fire department. With a little investment in time and a willingness to navigate the wickets, equipment can be found to benefit your agency for little or no cost. Note that certain equipment is not deemed appropriate for the “general public” and will not be available for purchase in the DLA auctions, but is available through other programs in support of specific first responder services.

Surplus DoD Equipment for Sale to the General Public

For sales to the general public:

You will have to create an account,, and once registered; you can participate in E-Auctions, and submit bids for surplus equipment online.

Search for equipment here:

For Agencies

To Participate in the Reutilization, Transfer, and Donation (RTD) Programs:

An information brochure is available here:

1. Create an account in the Account Management and Provisioning System (AMPS): (Select “Public” if you are not a federal agency or employee.)

Information and instructions can be found here (.pdf file):

2. As part of the registration process, your agency will have to authorize personnel and “create roles.”

3. Once you are registered, access to the external website is granted:

Find an Equipment Disposition Location:

Specific Programs

The Federal Excess Property Program (FEPP):
“The Federal Excess Personal Property (FEPP) program refers to Forest Service-owned property that is on loan to State Foresters for the purpose of wildland and rural firefighting. Most of the property originally belonged to the Department of Defense (DoD). Once acquired by the Forest Service, it is loaned to State Cooperators for firefighting purposes.”

DoD Firefighter Property Program (FPP):

“The Firefighter Property (FFP) Program refers to excess Department of Defense (DoD) property that is suitable for use in providing fire and emergency services. The DoD authorizes the United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Fire and Aviation Management, to act as the agent of DoD for the transfer of DoD property through a Memorandum of Agreement. State Agencies responsible for fire suppression and pre-suppression are responsible in determining whether property is suitable for use by fire protection and emergency service activities within their states. The 1706 program, better known as the Firefighter Property (FFP) program, is intended to assist State and local firefighting and emergency service agencies in acquiring excess DoD property.”

Volunteer Fire Assistance Program (VFA):

“The Volunteer Fire Assistance Program (VFA), formerly known as the Rural Community Fire Protection (RCFP) Program, can provide Federal financial, technical, and other assistance to State Foresters and other appropriate officials to organize, train and equip fire departments in rural areas and rural communities to suppress fires. A rural community is defined as having 10,000 or less population. This 10,000 population limit for participation in the VFA Program facilitates distribution of available VFA funding to the most needy fire departments.” This program provides small grants with each award around $5,000.00.

To find your state program managers:

For LEOs

The 1033 Program

Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO):

“Section 1033 of the Fiscal Year 1997 (FY 97) National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) authorizes the Secretary of Defense to transfer excess Department of Defense (DOD) personal property to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies (LEAs). Special consideration is provided to counter-drug and counter terrorism activities.”

Note from the LESO website: “On May 22, 2012 shipments of weapons were discontinued pending a full weapon inventory reconciliation for all participating States and Territories. This moratorium will be in effect until further notice. Progress updates will be communicated via the State Coordinators and Points of Contact.”

To find your state coordinator:

Screen for property online:

Federal Excess Property Management Information System (FEPMIS) is the accountability and audit system site to search for excess property that is available by location, and to track and turn in federal property as required through the program requirements. There are specific FEPMIS sites for each type of program, and online accountability of equipment is required. Training is available.

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