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Volunteer Fire Assistance Grants

Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978 Volunteer Fire Assistance

Program Summary

The Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant program is made possible by the Federal Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978. The grant is a 50/50 matching funds program. Its purpose is to make funds available to rural fire companies for the purchase of equipment such as portable backpack pumps, Nomex protective clothing, hand tools, hard hats, hose, portable radios and dry hydrants.

Important Notice for All Not-For-Profit Organizations

If interested in applying for this grant opportunity you must register for access to the new Grants Gateway system and prequalify to be considered eligible to receive a grant award and to be reimbursed grant funds. Please see this important notice for additional details.

Program Funding

The Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant program is funded by the U.S. Forest Service and administered by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. The Department anticipates receiving an appropriation of more than $360,000 for the 2013 federal fiscal year.

Match Requirement

Fire departments will receive 50/50 matching funds, up to the amount of their $1,000 grant award, for the purchase of firefighting equipment. As an example, a fire department awarded a $1000 grant would need to expend $2000 on their project to receive the $1000 grant award. Fire departments must provide half the cost of the project being funded.

Eligibility Criteria

  1. A single fire department serving a rural area or rural community with a population of 10,000 or less is eligible ( latest census).
  2. Area fire departments (fire districts, townships, etc.) may serve an aggregate population of greater than 10,000 as long as the service area of the fire department includes a rural area or rural community having a population of 10,000 or less. The VFA funding must be used to benefit the rural population.
  3. A single county or town with a population of over 10,000 that is served by two or more fire districts operating entirely within the bounds of the county or town may qualify as long as the service area of a given fire department includes a rural area or rural community or the population of the fire department's jurisdiction is 10,000 or less. The VFA funding must be used for the rural area.
  4. A single community with a population greater than 10,000 and having a single fire department with one or more fire stations may qualify. The fire department must have a service area that includes a rural area or community that does not exceed 10,000 populations. The VFA funding must be used only for the benefit of the rural population. Similarly a single community with a population greater than 10,000 that also provides fire protection to an adjoining rural community of 10,000 or less population by contract may also be eligible provided the VFA funding is used entirely to support the rural community.
  5. A single community fire department serving a population greater than 10,000 and not providing protection to a rural area or to a rural community is not eligible for VFA financial assistance.

A fire department's success or failure in receiving a grant is based on a point system with points received for:

  1. Population (ex: less than 1,000 = 10 points; 1,000-2,000 = 9 points, and so on)
  2. I.S.O. rating (ex: rating of 9 = 10 points; 5/9 = 5 points; 8 or less = 1 point)
  3. Newly organized department = 10 points
  4. Native American Indian community in protection area = 10 points
  • Points will be deducted on a pro-rated basis from the total of these four factors if a grant was awarded to the fire department within the last five years.
  • A point for use in future years will be added each year the applicant submits an application and does not receive a grant award.
  • Only one application per local jurisdiction will be considered.
  • Only expenses directly related to fire suppression are eligible for funding [purchasing portable pumps, portable backpack pumps, hand tools, hose, light-weight fireproof clothing (Nomex), hard hats, turnout gear, personal protective equipment, portable radios, generators and dry hydrants.
  • Expenditures not directly related to firefighting, such as search and rescue, acquisition of land, construction of buildings and facilities, major apparatus purchases and maintenance items are not eligible for funding.
  • Approved grant projects should be completed by October 31, 2013.


You may access an application (PDF 386 KB) here, as well as at the top right corner of this page. Once the application is completed, save it and email to Volunteer Fire Assistance Grants. Any problems with the on-line application should be immediately directed to Volunteer Fire Assistance Grants.

The application deadline is July 25, 2013. Any application received after the cutoff date will automatically be rejected.

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  • Lynne Korona
    NYS DEC Forest Rangers
    625 Broadway, 3rd Floor
    Albany, NY 12233-2560
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