The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) is now accepting applications for grants to help volunteer fire companies fight wildfires. Applications are due April 19.

With spring’s arrival and the increased risk of forest and brush fires across the state, funding is now available to help Pennsylvania’s rural communities better guard against the threat of fires in forested, undeveloped, and unprotected areas.

“Spring’s warming temperatures, sunny days, and strong winds all combine to usher in wildfire dangers that emphasize the value of having well-trained and well-equipped local firefighting forces in rural areas,” Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “These men and women deserve the very best training and equipment, and these grants help them obtain both.”

In 2017, more than $592,000 was awarded to 129 volunteer fire companies serving rural areas and communities where forest and brush fires are common. The grant program, offered through DCNR 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. Grants also may be used for purchasing mobile or portable radios, installing dry hydrants, wildfire prevention and mitigation work, 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. Also, grants now can be used to purchase new/used 4×4 vehicles which will be utilized as a Type 6 or 7 Wildland Engine, and costing $40,000 or less.

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 2018 is $10,000.

Grant applications must be electronically submitted through DCNR’s grant website. For more information, contact the DCNR Bureau of Forestry’s Division of Forest Fire Protection by sending email to: [email protected].