Harrisburg, PA -- The Wolf Administration today announced that the application window is now open for grants to help Pennsylvania’s rural communities increase protection from wildfires.
"We appreciate the hard work of the men and women who volunteer with the fire companies that serve our rural areas and communities across Pennsylvania," said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. "Their commitment and dedication to fighting forest and brush fires is critical in ensuring the commonwealth does not experience the horrific fires that plague other states. We appreciate the value of well-equipped and highly trained wildfire fighters and encourage fire companies to apply for these grants.”
Acting State Fire Commissioner Thomas Cook pointed to volunteer fire companies’ service to communities close to home, noting that many volunteer firefighters often join DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry crews battling wildfires across the U.S.
"It’s very easy to take for granted that the men and women that respond to these incidents are our neighbors, family members, and friends, and that when they aren't battling wildfires, they're just as active in their hometowns," Cook said. "The fire service continues to face a variety of challenges, from increased operational tempo, diminished labor force, and the lasting impacts of COVID-19 affecting their ability to raise funds. We're always exceptionally pleased to play our role in pushing out needed financial support to departments across the commonwealth."
Grant applications must be electronically submitted through DCNR’s grant website by 4:00 P.M., Thursday, May 12, 2022. To expedite applications and decision-making processes, DCNR is accepting only online applications.
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. Grant recipients are selected based on vulnerability and adequacy of existing fire protection. The key objective is to better equip and train volunteers to save lives and protect property in unprotected or inadequately protected rural areas.
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 provided to them by the department.
The maximum grant that will be considered from any fire company in 2022 is $12,500.
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.
Cook and Dunn praised readiness of volunteer fire companies is demonstrated every spring and summer when they answer assistance calls coming from other states, while also responding regularly to local woodland and brush fires. They noted the wildfire grants help enable smaller companies to concentrate more on public safety and training while easing their fiscal constraints.
In 2021, nearly $603,000 was awarded to 109 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 $13 million since it began in 1982.
MEDIA CONTACT: DCNR, Wesley Robinson, 717-877-6315
OSFC, L. Paul Vezzetti, 717-651-2169
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