Wildfire Program Provides more than $175,000 to Ohio Rural Fire Departments

With a focus on making improvements that will better protect Ohioans and local first responders, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) recently approved federal grant funding for 22 projects statewide for fire departments and fire associations serving small communities across Ohio.

“ODNR is committed to helping small fire departments across the state protect both themselves and the people that live in their communities,” said Robert Boyles, ODNR deputy director and state forester. “These grants help provide the resources necessary for departments operating on limited budgets in their efforts toward providing wildland and rural community fire protection.”

Out of Ohio’s nearly 1,300 fire departments statewide, approximately 900 are classified as rural, with populations under 10,000, and are primarily staffed by volunteers. The average annual budget for an Ohio rural fire department is $35,000 per year, with many fire departments operating on $10,000 or less annually. These Federal Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) grants are used to upgrade equipment at existing fire departments and to assist new departments with organizational, training and equipment costs.

The ODNR Division of Forestry has recommended 22 fire departments and support organizations in 13 Ohio counties to receive a total of $175,197. For the 2015 VFA grant cycle, these matching grant funds will be used for the purchase of wildland fire slip-in pumper units, wildland fire personal protective equipment, all terrain and utility vehicles, Multi-Agency Radio Communication System (MARCS) equipment and conversion of Federal Excess Personal Property into fire apparatus.

Administered by the ODNR Division of Forestry, VFA grants provide up to $10,000 to communities with populations that are smaller than 10,000 residents. A local match is required. More than 1,500 rural Ohio fire departments have received assistance since the VFA program was established in 1978.

The ODNR Division of Forestry works to promote the wise use and sustainable management of Ohio’s public and private woodlands. Visit forestry.ohiodnr.gov for more information on wildfire prevention, protecting homes and property, Smokey Bear and Ohio’s burning laws.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.