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Thursday, December 23, 2010

LAST MINUTE GIFT IDEAS FROM THE FORESTRY COMMISSION


(Columbia)  Having trouble coming up with a gift for that hard-to-buy-for member of the family?  The South Carolina Forestry Commission has just posted nearly thirty vehicles for auction at www.govdeals.com.  The equipment is officially retired from agency operations, but each is ready for duty for winning bidders.

The list includes 11 dozers of various sizes and makes, 13 transport rigs (11 with a flatbed trailer suitable for a large dozer, and two bobtail trucks w/ no trailer), one Chevy Blazer, and three pickup trucks.  Additionally, four “fire plows” (the type generally towed behind a tractor or dozer) are up for auction.  Landowners could use these to create firebreaks on their property thereby reducing the risk of wildfire.

“Most are vehicles that, with little or no repair, can be driven off our premises,” says Doug Mills, the Forestry Commission’s fleet manager.  “But, for safety reasons, they’re too old to be depended upon for fire duty.”

On average, the Forestry Commission responds 2,500 to 3,000 wildfires every year.  Recent cuts in funding have lengthened the agency’s equipment replacement cycle.  Some of the emergency response vehicles date back to the 1970s and 1980s.  One fire plow is a 1967 model.

“Ideally, we’d sell a firefighting unit when it reached 15 years of age,” Mills says.  “But in today’s economic climate, the Forestry Commission is holding on to its trucks and dozers for a lot longer.”

Forestry Commission staff have been concerned for a number of years now about the impact state budget cuts have had on firefighting capacity and response times.  Dwindling funds have whittled the agency’s budget down by 46 percent -- $8 million over the last three years. 

Selling off the oldest gear may help with the purchase of some new equipment, mainly in the form of pickup trucks, which can be fitted with water pumps to combat smaller fires.  If it were brand new, the equipment being auctioned off would be worth about $1.2 million.  The agency hopes to make $200,000 off its most battle-hardened inventory.

Interested buyers can see each item by visiting www.govdeals.com and typing “South Carolina” into the search field.  Bidding will remain open through mid-January.  Potential buyers may inspect the equipment on January 10th and 11th at the Forestry Commission’s headquarters at 5500 Broad River Rd. in Columbia, Mills says.

Winning bidders will have 10 business days to pick up their purchases.  

equipment auction release
By Scott Hawkins
803-896-8820

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