Rural or volunteer fire departments that serve communities with fewer than 10,000 people are eligible for funding from the U.S. Forest Service Volunteer Fire Assistance Program. Departments in townships with more than 10,000 people may apply as long as the department covers a rural area or community with a maximum population of 10,000. Deadlines were not available as of mid-December, but applications are generally accepted from early March through mid-May.
The grants, administered by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Bureau of Forestry, help rural fire departments organize, train, and equip firefighters to prevent and suppress fires that threaten human life, livestock, wildlife, crops, pastures, orchards, woodlands, farmsteads, or other improvements in rural areas. The key objectives of this program are to save lives and protect property.
This is a cost-share program. Financial assistance on any project during any fiscal year may not exceed 50 percent of the actual expenditures, including those of local, public, and private nonprofit organizations participating in the agreement. The maximum grant award is $7,500.
Grants may be used to purchase wildfire suppression equipment, protective gear, mobile or portable radios; install dry hydrants; prevent and mitigate wildfires; or attend wildfire training. Funds may also be used to convert and maintain federal excess vehicles received from the Bureau of Forestry and used for fire suppression.
Priority will be given to projects that include the purchase of wildfire suppression equipment and protective gear. Grants may not be used for structural fire equipment or protective gear, supply hose larger than 2½ inches in diameter, structures, routine maintenance of vehicles not received from the Bureau of Forestry, medical services, ambulance services, fire police equipment and gear, or search and rescue equipment and gear.
Applications must be submitted online. For updated grant program deadlines and to apply for a grant call (800) 326-7734, or visit grants.dcnr.state.pa.us.