Each year, in the summer and early fall, wildfires present a very real threat to forests, wildlife, and residential areas in western and southwestern United States. A vital role of GSA’s mission is to support firefighters and save taxpayer dollars by utilizing government contracts to consolidate purchasing supplies and equipment. In August alone, GSA’s Wildland Fire Program saved an estimated $4 million on orders of equipment to support firefighters across the nation.
While wildfire activity slowed in July, national preparedness levels increased in August with large fires burning in Arizona, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, California, Montana, Oregon, Washington State, Wyoming, Oklahoma and Texas. During the single month, the Southwest Supply Operations Center, which is responsible for GSA’s Wildland Fire Program, processed over 40 orders for fire equipment and supplies for national fire caches. The supplies were shipped from the GSA Western Distribution Center in French Camp, California. In many cases, shipments are responses to immediate needs and must be processed during evening or weekend hours.
The program provides firefighters with equipment and supplies, facilitates advanced procurements in preparation for fire season, assists in standardization of fire equipment and supplies, and provides direct distribution of items to field units. Located in Fort Worth, Texas, the Southwest Supply Operations Center stocks over 250 items to assist firefighting in the task of fire suppression including water handling equipment, fire line tools, fire shelters, and protective clothing. As of early September, sales of equipment in the region totaled $38.4 million, which is estimated to have saved firefighters $13 million in cost-savings.
GSA also provides support to state and local governments during times of emergency through the use of government-wide contracts with commercial firms that are designed to save time and money in the procurement process. The use of these contracts, referred to as “schedules,” provides access to millions of commercial products and services at volume discount pricing.
GSA’s Office of Emergency Response and Recovery provides the overall logistics support for disasters and manages our role in the Emergency Support Functions as part of FEMA’s National Response Framework. They are GSA’s first responders and “boots on the ground” within hours of an event. In addition to wildfires, GSA provides support during hurricanes, tornados, floods, earthquakes and other man-made or natural disasters.