The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is now accepting applications from volunteer fire companies for grants to help battle wildfires. Applications are due May 19.
With spring’s arrival and the increased risk of forest and brush fires across the state, federal grants now are available to help Pennsylvania’s rural communities better guard against the threat of fires in forested, undeveloped and unprotected areas.
“Spring’s warming temperatures, sunny days and strong winds all combine to usher in wildfire dangers that emphasize the value of having well-trained and well-equipped local firefighting forces in rural areas,” Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “These men and women deserve the very best training and equipment, and these grants help them obtain both.”
In 2015, $592,030 was awarded to 156 volunteer fire companies serving rural areas and communities where forest and brush fires are common. The grant program, offered through DCNR and paid through federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, has awarded more than $11.5 million since it began in 1982.
Local firefighting forces in rural areas or communities with fewer than 10,000 residents qualify for the aid, which is used for training and equipment purchases directly related to fighting brush and forest fires.
In reviewing applications, DCNR will place priority on those requests seeking funds for projects that include the purchase of wildfire suppression equipment and protective clothing.
Grants also may be used for purchasing mobile or portable radios, installing dry hydrants, wildfire prevention and mitigation work, training wildfire fighters, or converting and maintaining federal excess vehicles. These vehicles are presented to the local departments exhibiting the greatest needs and those that commit to outfitting them for fire suppression.
Aid is granted on a cost-share basis. Grants for any project during a fiscal year cannot exceed 50 percent of the actual expenditures of local, public and private nonprofit organizations in the agreement.
The maximum grant that will be considered from any fire company in 2016 is $7,500.
To expedite application and decision-making processes, DCNR is accepting only online applications.For more information, visit DCNR’s Resources For Volunteer Fire Departments webpage or contact the bureau’s Division of Forest Fire Protection at 717-787-2925 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.