Grants for fire assistance are important to many communities, especially those that have been directly affected by fires or located within high fire-danger zones. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers grants to both fire departments and the communities they serve in an effort to improve firefighting through training and better equipment. The U.S. Forest Service falls under the USDA's umbrella.
Volunteer Fire Assistance Program
According to the U.S. Forest Service, nearly 75 percent of all fire departments are made up of volunteers. The Volunteer Fire Assistance Program is administered by the Forest Service, and the goal of this program is to assist volunteer fire departments that operate in rural areas. Assistance can come in the form of training, equipment or organizational help. To qualify, departments must operate in a community that has 10,000 people or fewer. The Forest Service distributes funds to the states, which in turn give out the funds to individual fire departments. U.S. Forest Service 1400 Independence Ave., S.W. Washington, D.C. 20250-0003 202-205-8333 fs.fed.us
Special Vehicle and Equipment Initiative
The USDA's Rural Development's Community Facilities Program offers grants to rural areas with fewer than 20,000 people that are looking to purchase vehicles and equipment. These grants may be used to purchase needed community vehicles, including those used for utilities, snow removal, road maintenance and fire and rescue. These funds may also be used to purchase first-responder equipment for police, fire department and other emergency vehicles. Local governmental bodies are welcome to apply for the grant. The amount will depend on the median income of the area. Eligible applicants need to apply at their local USDA office. The grant funds are given out on a first-come, first-served basis. Once funds are gone, no more will be available for that year. USDA Rural Development, Room 205-W Mail Stop 0107/1400 Independence Avenue SW Washington, DC 20250-0107 202-720-4581 rurdev.usda.gov
Community Facilities Grants
The Community Facilities Grant program is directly administered by the USDA, and the goal is to help communities develop needed facilities, including fire departments, hospitals and safety facilities. The grants are given to rural communities with 20,000 people or fewer; very small, lower-income communities receive a higher percentage of funding for projects. The grants go to local governmental agencies, districts, nonprofit organizations and Native American tribal governments. These grants may be used for the construction or renovation of community facilities, and can also be used to purchase needed equipment. USDA Rural Development Mail Stop 0107/1400 Independence Ave. S.W. Room 205-W Washington, DC 20250-0107 202-720-4581 usda.gov
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