HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Wolf has announced applications are being accepted for federal grants to help Pennsylvania’s rural communities better guard against the threat of fires in forested, undeveloped and unprotected areas.
“The value of these grants is accentuated when we look back at the tragedy of Tennessee’s wildfires late last year, and Pennsylvania’s wildfire last April that burned for almost two weeks across more than 8,000 acres on the Pike-Monroe county line,” Wolf said.
“Well-trained, well-equipped volunteers in rural areas often are the front line of defense in these types of wildfires. These men and women deserve the very best training and equipment, and these grants help them obtain both.”
In 2016, $571,202 was awarded to 142 volunteer fire companies serving rural areas and communities where forest and brush fires are common.
The grant program, offered through the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and paid through federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, has awarded more than $12 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 and gear,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “These are the items the smaller fire companies often need most.”
Grants also may be used for purchasing mobile or portable radios, installing dry hydrants, wildfire prevention and mitigation work and 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 2017 is $7,500.
Grant applications must be electronically submitted through DCNR’s grant website by 4 p.m. May 18. To expedite application and decision-making processes, DCNR is accepting only online applications. Applicants should visit www.dcnr.pa.gov and click on “Grants.”