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Bureau of Forestry announces record funding for rural firefighters

Published on 6 August 2010
DCNR, a support for Pennsylvania's rural communities
DCNR announced $666,553 fund for
Pennsylvania's rural firefighters to help
them save their undeveloped areas

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has announced record funding for rural firefighters to fight against threats of fires in forests and undeveloped areas.

A record $666,553 will be awarded to help Pennsylvania's rural communities guard against the threat of fires in forests and other undeveloped areas, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary John Quigley announced. "These funds will be awarded to 172 volunteer fire companies serving rural areas and communities where forest and brush fires are common," Quigley said. "One only has to look back to this past spring when dry, windy conditions spawned smaller fires in every county and several larger forest fires to appreciate the value of these well-equipped and highly trained men and women."

Local firefighting forces in rural areas or communities with fewer than 10,000 residents qualify for the aid. Last year, the grant program awarded $604,710 to 162 fire companies across the state. "The readiness of these volunteers is demonstrated even further every spring when they answer assistance calls coming from Western states," Quigley said. "These federal grants allow firefighters from smaller companies to concentrate more on public safety and training rather than having to concern themselves with fundraising and fiscal constraints."

Grant recipients were named following review of fire company applications that met a May 2010 deadline. Grants and other assistance are provided through the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' Bureau of Forestry, with funding supplied by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service through the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978.

Grants help volunteer companies battle forest fires across the state

The key objective is to better equip and train volunteers to save lives and protect property in unprotected or inadequately protected rural areas. Grant recipients are selected based on vulnerability and adequacy of existing fire protection.

In reviewing applications, the bureau placed priority on applications seeking funds for projects that included purchasing wildfire-suppression equipment and protective clothing. Grants were also awarded for mobile or portable radios, dry hydrant installations, wildfire prevention and mitigation, wildfire fighting training, and to convert and maintain federal excess vehicles the bureau receives and uses for fire suppression.

Grants for any project during a fiscal year cannot exceed 50% of the actual expenditures. The maximum grant awarded was $7,500. Aid is granted on a cost-share basis, with recipients supplying matching funds. The bureau will begin accepting 2011 applications next spring.

To expedite the application and decision-making processes, the bureau is accepting only online applications. Potential applicants should visit their website and click on "Apply for Grants," then "Online Grant Applications" and "DCNR Volunteer Fire Assistance."

Grant information can be obtained from the Bureau of Forestry Division of Forest Fire Protection in Harrisburg. Call 717-787-2925 or click here and click on "State Forests."

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