Harrisburg - More than $590,000 in grants will be awarded to help Pennsylvania’s rural communities guard against the threat of fires in forests and other undeveloped areas, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Ellen Ferretti announced today.
“Across Pennsylvania, 158 volunteer fire companies that serve rural areas and communities where forest and brush fires are common will benefit from these funds,” Ferretti said. “To appreciate the value of well-equipped and highly trained wildfire fighters, one only has to look outside Pennsylvania to the horrific fires that sometimes plague other states.”
Local firefighting forces in rural areas or communities with fewer than 10,000 residents qualify for the federal aid. Last year, the grant program awarded $505,000 to 130 volunteer companies in Pennsylvania.
“The readiness of these men and women is demonstrated every spring and summer when they answer assistance calls coming from other states, while also responding regularly to local woodland and brush fires,” Ferretti said. “These federal grants allow firefighters from smaller companies to concentrate more on public safety and training while easing their fiscal constraints.”
Grant recipients were named following review of fire company applications meeting a May 2014 deadline. Grants and other assistance are provided 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.
In Berks: Alsace Manor Fire Co., Temple, $2,681; Brecknock Township Fire, Mohnton, $5,500; Kempton Fire Co., Kempton, $7,500; Mount Penn Fire Co.; Reading, $2,000; Oley Fire Co., Oley, $3,000; Pioneer Hose Co. No. 1, Robesonia, $2,250; Shartlesville Community Fire Co. No. 1, Shartlesville; $5,294.
The key objective is to better equip and train volunteers to save lives and protect property in unprotected or inadequately protected rural areas. Grant recipients are selected based on vulnerability and adequacy of existing fire protection.
In reviewing applications, the bureau places priority on applications seeking funds for projects that included purchasing wildfire-suppression equipment and protective clothing.
Grants also were awarded for mobile or portable radios, water supply installations, wildfire prevention and mitigation, wildfire fighting training, and to convert and maintain federal excess vehicles the bureau receives and uses for fire suppression.
Grants for any project during a fiscal year cannot exceed 50 percent of the actual expenditures. The maximum grant awarded was $7,500.
Aid is granted on a cost-share basis, with recipients supplying matching funds. The bureau will begin accepting 2015 applications next spring.
Grant information can be obtained from the Bureau of Forestry Division of Forest Fire Protection in Harrisburg. Call 717-787-2925 or visit www.dcnr.state.pa.us and click on “State Forests.”