The National Fire Plan
There are several different grant programs in the National Fire Plan under several different federal agencies, all under the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. The U.S. Forest Service has grant programs to help volunteer and combination fire departments across the country, even if they are not near Forest Service land. Start planning now for next year's allotment.
$75 million was available in 2002 in State Fire Assistance - grants that go to states and are funneled down to the fire departments to build fire fighting preparedness. The money goes to training and personal protective equipment. Fire departments must apply to their state to get this money.
$13.2 million was available for Volunteer Fire Assistance - money also funneled through states to volunteer departments to buy equipment, conduct training and to help new departments get started. Departments must apply to their states.
$5 million was available for Community Assistance and Economic Action for communities to do wildfire risk assessments and help themselves build buffer space to stop wildfires from burning homes and businesses. This program is aimed at communities with less than 10,000 people.
Four other federal agencies in the Department of the Interior had another $10 million in the Rural Fire Assistance program. Fire departments must serve communities near federal land controlled by the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service or Bureau of Indian Affairs to qualify for a $20,000 grant for training, equipment or fire prevention. Departments must apply to their local federal office in the BLM, Park Service, Fish and Wildlife, or BIA.
Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)
States (and cities with more than 50,000 people) apply for CDBG grants under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, but the fire department can often qualify for the money that will be passed on to local communities. Most of the money that goes to fire departments is to build or improve fire stations. In most states the Commerce Department or other similar office is the contact point for applying in the larger cities, city governments run the CDBG programs.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Program
The USDA's Rural Housing Service and Community Facilities Grant program can pay up to 75% of costs for fire and rescue buildings and equipment under certain circumstances. The grants are designed to make essential community services available in rural areas with populations under 20,000. Grant amounts depend on median household income and population. Departments should apply to their USDA Rural Development field office or state office
Volunteer Fire Assistance Program
The purpose of the Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) Program, formerly known as the Rural Community Fire Protection (RCFP) Program under the U.S. Forest Service, is to provide federal financial, technical, and other assistance to state foresters to train and equip fire departments in rural areas and rural communities to prevent and suppress fires. The state forester passes the money along to the fire departments.
Departments must serve a community with 10,000 or less population. This 10,000 population limit helps gat available VFA funding to the most needy fire departments. Most grants will be less than $5,000. Funding must be matched on a 50-50 basis by non-federal dollars or in-kind, and can be used for fire equipment, training and start-up organization of fire departments.
Contact your state forester.
State, County and Municipal Agency Domestic Preparedness Equipment Support Program
The office of Justice Programs of the Department of Justice provides funding to the states and local governments to equip fire and emergency medical services, law enforcement agencies, and hazardous materials units to respond to weapons of mass destruction terrorist incident.
Office of Justice Programs
Department of Justice
810-7th Street NW
Washington, DC 20531
Indian Community Fire Protection
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) provides funds for fire protection services for Indian Tribal Governments that do not receive fire protection support from state or local government. Funds may be used to support staff, train volunteer firefighters, repair existing fire fighting equipment, and purchase additional equipment.
Office of Tribal Service
Bureau of Indian Affairs
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240
Tel: (202) 208-3463
For More Information:
New grant programs may spring up down the road that are not listed here or your department may have special circumstances that qualify it for other federal grants. For fire department leaders who want to do a little grant research, there are two helpful web sites:
Check out the Federal Emergency Management Agency's list of grants at : http://www.usfa.fema.gov
Also check out the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance at: http://www.cfda.gov It's a huge list of grants for all kinds of agencies and groups, but it can be searched, and may be especially helpful for fire departments with special circumstances or locations.
Fire departments can also get a free book, "Funding Alternatives for Fire and Emergency Services" manual from the U.S. Fire Administration.
Minnesota Council on Foundations
The Minnesota Council on Foundations produces the Guide to Minnesota Grant makers, a directory of foundation and corporate grant making programs. They are dedicated to helping non-profit organizations identify potential partners and financial supporters to help sustain and improve Minnesota communities. For more information about their organization, visit their website at www.mcf.org or call them at 612-338-1989.