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Funds Available to Help Volunteer Companies Fight Wildfires
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 03/13/2019

The Wolf Administration announced that funding is now available to help Pennsylvania's rural communities increase protections from wildfires.

"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. "Pennsylvania's volunteer firefighters deserve the very best training and equipment, and these grants help them obtain both."

In 2018, almost $646,900 was awarded to 132 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 $12.5 million since it began in 1982.

"Fighting a wildfire is very different from fighting a home or building fire and requires specialized training and equipment," said State Fire Commissioner Bruce Trego. "These grants ensure that the men and women doing the work have what they need to do their job safely while protecting their communities."

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, priority will be placed on 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.

Also, grants now can be used to purchase new/used 4X4 vehicles which will be utilized as a Type 6 or 7 Wildland Engine, and costing $40,000 or less.

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 2019 is $10,000.

Grant applications must be electronically submitted through DCNR's grant website by 4 p.m. May 2. To expedite application and decision-making processes, DCNR is accepting only online applications. Applicants should visit the DCNR website.

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