Texas A&M Forest Service and Fort Hood military base entered an agreement Monday that will provide a faster and more efficient response to wildfires.
The agreement allows the state agency and military officials to communicate and assist each other directly, rather than involve numerous entities and follow time-consuming procedures.
Prior to the agreement, TFS requested resources through the Texas Divi¬¬sion of Emergency Management, which in turn, would apply for assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA then had to request assistance from the U.S. Department of Defense, which would fill the request for Fort Hood.
“In emergency response, it’s critical to be swift and efficient,” said Texas A&M Forest Service Director Tom Boggus. “This agreement goes a long way toward helping us better protect lives and property.”
Under the terms of the agreement, TFS and Fort Hood can cooperate and collaborate on wildfire suppression, training and prescribed burning. It also allows TFS to house vehicles and heavy firefighting equipment on the military base – standing ready to help Fort Hood in the event of a wildfire on the base. And the area has seen its share of wildfire; almost 19,000 acres burned there during the 2011 wildfire season.
State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, said he’s pleased to see the agreement come to fruition.
“This is a prime example of how different agencies came to the table, rolled up their sleeves and went to work to find a solution that would best serve the citizens of Texas,” Aycock said.
Beyond Fort Hood property, TFS will now be able to directly request firefighting equipment, personnel and resources from Fort Hood Emergency Services Division to any point within a designated response zone.