(WNY News Now) – The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is currently inviting applications for Volunteer Fire Assistance grants totaling $976,622, aimed at bolstering rural fire departments’ ability to safeguard public safety and natural resources against the threat of wildfires. The deadline for submissions is November 15.
NY – The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is extending a lifeline to rural fire departments, offering nearly $1 million in grant funding to enhance their capacity for fighting wildfires and ensuring the safety of their communities. The Volunteer Fire Assistance grant program, funded by the U.S. Forest Service and administered by DEC Forest Rangers, is designed to provide essential financial support to these dedicated responders.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos emphasized the significance of this grant program, stating, “When wildfires break out in different parts of the State, DEC’s Forest Rangers are often joined by members of volunteer fire departments. This grant program bolsters the local capacity to fight wildland fires, so firefighters can protect their family, friends, and neighbors, and their surrounding communities.”
Key points regarding this grant program include:
- Funding Source: The program is financially supported by the U.S. Forest Service and is supervised by DEC Forest Rangers.
- Enhanced Support: Fire departments that receive this funding will benefit from a 50/50 matching funds arrangement, allowing them to receive up to $2,500. This represents a substantial increase from last year when the grant offered $1,500 to 444 fire departments.
- Eligible Expenses: The funds are designated exclusively for expenses directly related to wildland firefighting suppression efforts. This includes the purchase of crucial equipment such as portable pumps, portable backpack pumps, hand tools, fire hose, approved lightweight fire-resistant clothing, hard hats, turnout gear, portable radios, generators, and dry hydrants.
- Ineligible Expenses: Expenditures not directly tied to firefighting efforts, such as search and rescue, land acquisition, construction of buildings and facilities, major apparatus purchases, and maintenance items, are not eligible for funding.
Eligible fire departments encompass:
- Those serving a single town with a population under 10,000.
- Fire departments serving multiple communities, with at least one being a rural town housing fewer than 10,000 residents.
- Fire departments located in towns with populations of 10,000 or more, provided they meet the program’s application requirements.
It’s important to note that fire departments receiving a grant award must fulfill all necessary grant paperwork to ensure transparency and accountability in the utilization of these funds.
The application deadline for the Volunteer Fire Assistance grant is November 15, creating an urgent opportunity for eligible fire departments to secure the financial support they need to prepare and respond effectively to wildfires. By extending this grant program, New York State seeks to enhance the resilience of rural fire departments and empower them to protect their communities and the invaluable natural resources of the state.
For rural fire departments dedicated to safeguarding their communities and the environment, this funding opportunity represents a crucial lifeline, ensuring that they can respond to wildfires with greater capacity and efficiency, thereby minimizing the risks and damage associated with these natural disasters.