The Volunteer Fire Assistance Program provides assistance to organize, train and equip fire departments in rural areas
With wildland fire season right around the corner, rural departments have another avenue of financial assistance available to them through a competitive grant process.
The Volunteer Fire Assistance Program (VFA), formerly known as the Rural Community Fire Protection (RCFP) Program, can provide federal financial, technical and other assistance to appropriate state officials to organize, train and equip fire departments in rural areas and rural communities to suppress fires.
A rural community is defined as having a population of 10,000 or less. This population limit for participation in the VFA Program facilitates distribution of available VFA funding to the fire departments with the greatest need.
The VFA program was first authorized in 1972. Even though it has undergone a name change and some program additions, the objectives of the program remain the same today as they were when it was initiated. They are:
In implementing these objectives, the VFA program endeavors to:
Included in the VFA program is the opportunity for small rural fire departments to apply for grant funds to address wildland and rural firefighting needs.
Some examples of funded projects include:
Program specifics, including application deadlines vary from state to state. The grants generally require a 50-percent match by the fire department and are limited to $10,000.
Some states may also have restrictions on how a successful department may apply for the program. To learn about the specific program for your state, your best option is to visit the National Association of State Foresters Membership Directory, you will find a complete directory of state forestry agencies. From there, you can e-mail your state forester or locate the phone number for the state headquarters. You may also contact the state VFA manager.
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