SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Applications for the Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) Grant program are being accepted as of Monday. The grants are being offered to community fire departments that help 10,000 people or less by the Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department Forestry Division (EMNRD).

The United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service provides the funds for the program. This year, the program has allocated more than $900,000.

What does the grant do?

According to a release from the EMNRD, the grant can be used in order to reduce the risk of wildfire and protect firefighters. The funds are meant to be used to strengthen the government’s ability to fight wildland fires through tools, education, and equipment, especially in rural areas.

How has the grant helped before?

During 2022, 24 rural fire departments were awarded more than $358,000 in funds through the program. A secretary with EMNRD explained how the program helped fire departments throughout the year’s fire season.

“We never want to experience another fire season like 2022 and the VFA grants are essential
for rural fire departments to get the equipment and coordination staff they need to be
prepared,” said EMNRD Cabinet Secretary Sarah Cottrell Propst. “These fire departments are
our first line of defense to stop a catastrophic wildfire from destroying communities and
causing loss of life. They need our support and the VFA grant gives them that.”

In 2021, the Lincoln County Fire and Emergency Services used their grant money for seven volunteer fire districts and 13 fire stations. The funds bought protective equipment, tools, GPS technology, and radios, said JP Kenmore with the Lincoln County Fire and Emergency Services.

How do you apply for the grant? Who qualifies?

In order to qualify, the applicant needs to represent more than one fire department that serves rural communities with 10,000 people or less. A cost-share of 10% of state or local funds also needs to be provided.

To apply, applicants can download the form on the Forestry Division website. The deadline to apply is September 30, 2022, at 4:30 p.m. If applicants still have questions after reading this article, Program Coordinator Robert Brown can be contacted at Robert.Brown@state.nm.us or 505-476-3348.