Volunteer Fire Assistance Grants

The VFA application period will be open from March 14, 2017 to May 18, 2017.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is authorized to provide financial, technical and other assistance to state officials in cooperative efforts to organize, train and equip local forces in rural areas or communities under 10,000 population to prevent, control and suppress fires which threaten human life, livestock, wildlife, crops, pastures, orchards, woodlands, farmsteads, or other improvements in rural areas. The key objectives of this program are to save lives and protect property in unprotected or inadequately protected rural areas. Therefore, the selection of the participating agencies must be based on vulnerability and the adequacy of existing fire protection.

Fire company officers may then apply for Volunteer Fire Assistance grants using DCNR's Grant Portal. The VFA Grant application has been completely redesigned for this year and the directions are here.

This is a cost-share program. Financial assistance on any project during any fiscal year cannot exceed 50% of the actual expenditures including expenditures of local, public and private nonprofit organizations participating in the agreement.

The maximum grant we will consider for the 2017 program is $7,500 ($15,000 total project) per fire company.

Grants can be used for the purchase of wildfire suppression equipment, wildfire protective gear, mobile or portable radios, installation of dry hydrants, wildfire prevention and mitigation, or wildfire training. Funds may also be used for certain projects involving the conversion and maintenance of federal excess vehicles received from the Bureau of Forestry and used for fire suppression. A priority will be placed on projects that include the purchase of wildland fire suppression equipment and wildland fire protective gear. Grants cannot be used for the purchase of structural fire equipment or protective gear, supply hose larger than 2½ inches in diameter, structures, routine maintenance of vehicles not received from the Bureau of Forestry, medical services, ambulance services, fire police equipment and gear, search and rescue equipment and gear, or Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS).

New Federal regulations require that all single item purchases costing over $5,000 be tracked, therefore purchases of items costing this amount will be limited to slip-on/skid units, pumps, and UTVs only.

Due to high demand and limited funding there is a 5-year waiting period between years a fire company is eligible to receive grants. However, if a fire company received a $4,000 grant or less in the last 5 years they are eligible for assistance one additional time as long as the 2 year total does not exceed the maximum grant established for the program each year. This change was made to assist small VFD's that simply cannot afford a large match.

Since planning is the key to the efficient and effective use of equipment, personnel and organization, priority will be given to fire companies which have established goals and objectives and have developed plans to meet them. If you have any questions contact the Bureau of Forestry-Division of Forest Fire Protection at (717) 787-2925 or email to ra-ffp@pa.gov.