Volunteer Fire Assistance
What IS Volunteer Fire Assistance, anyway?
Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) is a Federal grant program that provides
funds for fire equipment, training, and initial fire department organization
to fire departments serving small communities under 10,000 in population.
Where do these grant dollars
Congressionally appropriated VFA funds are provided to
the State forestry agencies through the USDA Forest Service. The State
forestry agencies pass this money on to needful fire departments within
Who may apply for VFA grants?
Any fire agency or volunteer fire department that serves
a community of 10,000 or less may apply.
Who qualifies for VFA grants?
State forestry agencies establish criteria defining priorities
based on need. Each fire department grant request is compared to the criteria
and grants are allocated to meet the greatest needs for equipment, training,
or organizational assistance.
What may a small department
do with VFA grant dollars?
A department may buy fire equipment, pay for training
or training materials, or cover the cost of department incorporation,
as long as the funds are matched. VFA funds are granted on a 50/50 matching
basis. In other words, the department must match the dollars, dollar for
dollar, in money, time, or equipment.
Do all States offer exactly
the same program?
Most States have similar programs, but they may offer
different amounts of funds per applicant; some may directly pay training
cost for certain types of training, and others may place the funds toward
projects that assist small rural departments. In every case, VFA funds
directly benefit small departments serving populations of 10,000 or less.
How large are most VFA grants?
Most grants are $5,000 or less. Actual amounts depend
on the VFA funding allocated to the particular State, which in turn depends
on Congressional action.
Where can I get more information
on VFA grants and how to apply in my State?
Since you are on the web, your best option is to click
Association of State Foresters Membership Directory, You will find
a complete directory of State forestry agencies. From there you can e-mail
your State forester or locate the phone number for the State headquarters.
You may also contact the State
What if I need more money
to build a fire station or make other major capital expenditures?
The USDA has a low-interest loan program to help communities with just such issues. For more information, click on USDA Rural Development or call the agency at 202-720-4323.