HARRISBURG -- As spring nears and woodlands begin to dry out, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources today announced that nearly $667,000 in grants is available to help Pennsylvania's rural communities better guard against the threat of fires in forested, undeveloped and unprotected areas.
"Although some areas may still have some snow on the ground, changing weather conditions can quickly usher in wildfire dangers that emphasize the value of having well-trained and well-equipped local firefighting forces in rural areas," said Bureau of Forestry Director Daniel Devlin. "These men and women deserve nothing but the very best training and equipment these grants help achieve."
A total of $666,553 is being made available to Pennsylvania volunteers this year. In 2009, grants totaling $559,200 helped almost 200 fire companies across the state. The grant program has awarded more than $8.1 million since it began in 1982.
Grants and other assistance are offered annually through DCNR's Bureau of Forestry, with funding supplied by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service through the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978.
"Drying winds and warming temperatures make spring a very busy season for the Bureau of Forestry-the state agency responsible for protecting our state woodlands from fire," Devlin said. "These grants help to provide better organization, training and equipment to our local firefighting allies in rural areas.
"The threat of wildfires continues to loom in our state's 17 million acres of woodlands as development encroaches upon large, forested tracts. The number of homes and communities in Pennsylvania's wooded and rural areas continues to grow each year, as does the threat of wildfires. That's why we need citizens to do their part by following local outdoor burning ordinances and to avoid discarding lit cigars and cigarettes."
The Bureau of Forestry began accepting grant applications March 1. All applications must be received at the Bureau of Forestry's Harrisburg headquarters by 4 p.m. Thursday, May 20.
To expedite application and decision-making processes, the bureau is accepting only online applications. Applicants should visit www.dcnr.state.pa.us; click on "Apply for Grants;" then "Online Grant Applications" and "DCNR Volunteer Fire Assistance."
In reviewing applications, the bureau 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 that commit to outfitting them for fire suppression.
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 2010 is $7,500. All items approved for purchase under the 2010 fiscal year program must be purchased between Oct. 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2010.
Media contact: Terry Brady, 717-772-9101