Interior watchdog pulls alarm over uninspected firefighting vehicles

By Michael Doyle | 03/28/2024 01:27 PM EDT

The Office of Inspector General called on the Office of Wildland Fire to improve its oversight of bureaus with wildfire-fighting fleets.

Firefighters observe a wildfire.

Firefighters observe a wildfire's push to the northeast on Sept. 11, 2016, in Moran, Wyoming. Scott Guenther/National Park Service/AP

The Interior Department’s wildland firefighting vehicles were not routinely inspected for mechanical and safety issues, agency watchdogs reported Wednesday.

After sampling 124 firefighting vehicles from across the four Interior bureaus that have such equipment, the department’s Office of Inspector General found that annual inspection reports were missing on an overall average of 51 percent of the vehicles and daily inspection reports were missing on an overall average of 56 percent.

“The lack of inspection and review documentation raises concerns about the bureaus’ ability to ensure wildland fire fleet response readiness as well as attendant risks to the safety of firefighters and the general public,” the OIG evaluators warned.


The OIG report, for instance, cited a search for inspection records for a Bureau of Indian Affairs fire engine in New Mexico. The BIA firefighters said they do not complete annual inspections for wildland fire engines and they could not provide records detailing daily inspections