Volunteer Fire Assistance Program

Objectives of the VFA Program

Fire camp crew

  • Provide financial, technical, and related assistance to rural volunteer fire departments and their communities.
  • Award VFA sub-grants of up to $3000 per department on a 50/50 cost share basis to enhance wildland fire suppression capabilities.
  • Enhance firefighter safety and promote the use of wildland personal protective equipment.
  • Provide basic wildland fire training classes for volunteer fire department members.

Key Qualifying Guidelines

  • A single fire department serving a rural area or a rural community with a population of 10,000 or less is eligible (latest Census).
  • Area fire departments (fire districts, first due area, etc.) may serve an aggregate population of greater than 10,000 as long as the service area of the fire department includes a rural area or a rural community having a population of 10,000 or less.
  • Federal funds will reimburse up to 50 percent of the cost to the fire department after approval and certification that items have been received and paid for by the department (50/50 match grant).
  • Complete VFA guide at: http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/partners/vfa/help/guide.htm.
  • Grants will not be approved for medical, rescue, or HAZMAT equipment; capital construction projects; or vehicle purchase.

Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) Grant Application Package

The 2021 Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) Grant application period closes on July 15, at 4:00 pm.

The 2021 grant application can be found at: https://forms.gle/cG5nNAj8xUEKwaJW6

If you have any questions or issues applying online, please contact Shannon Wolfe at 301-331-6432 or shannon.wolfe@maryland.gov.

The purpose of the VFA grant is to provide financial, technical, and related assistance to rural volunteer fire departments to build their capacity for wildland fire protection in the communities they serve. VFA grants are awarded in the maximum amount of $3000 per department on a 50/50 cost share basis to enhance wildland fire suppression capabilities.

VFA Grants may be used to purchase:

  1. wildland fire suppression equipment (Hose, nozzles, hose fittings, tanks, pumps, slip-ons, chainsaws, leaf-blowers, wildfire hand tools, backpack pumps, etc.)
  2. UTVs, ATVs, and / or supporting wildfire fighting equipment of outfit these types of units.
  3. wildland firefighting personal protective and safety equipment (wildland boots, lightweight Nomex pants, shirts, and jackets, hard hats, gloves, eye and ear protection, Chains aw chaps, etc.)
  4. Rehabilitation wildland firefighting related equipment obtained through the Federal Excess Property Program (FEPP) and Firefighter Property Program (FFP),
  5. Tuition and instructional supplies for members to take or instruct wildland fire and chainsaw training.
  6. Pagers and Radios. While Pagers and Radios are acceptable grant purchases, they receive lower priority rating than other wildfire equipment when competing for the grants against other departments.

VFA grants may not be used for rescue equipment, EMS equipment, equipment intended solely for structural firefighting, purchasing vehicles, or capital improvements.

VFA grants are awarded on a "points system" based on the questions answered on the VFA application. Erroneous or inaccurate answers will result in 0 points for that particular question and at the discretion of the Forest Service, that application may be disqualified. If determined that questions on the grant application were answered inaccurately after the grants are awarded, that department's grant may be withdrawn after re-scoring and possibly disqualified. Any scenario where a fire department owes the State of Maryland money (back-taxes or otherwise), will affect DNR's ability to process a grant payment to that Department.

The Grant Application Process & Timeline:

  1. Submit your web-based application before 4:00 p.m. July 15, 2021.
  2. After you submit your application, you will receive a confirmation email with a copy of your responses.
  3. You will be notified by September 15, 2021 if your VFD was "awarded" or "denied" a VFA grant.
  4. If awarded a VFA grant, you will receive guidance and supporting documentation needed to be submitted after purchases occur for reimbursement.
  5. Purchases would then need to occur before December 31, 2021 and supporting documentation will need to be submitted by January 15, 2022.
  6. After your supporting documentation is submitted and received, the Maryland Forest Service will reimburse the VFD based on the 50/50 cost share agreement.
  7. The MD Forest Service will then have 45 days to reimburse the VFD after the supporting Documentation is submitted and received.

Volunteer Fire Assistance Grants Award

Mallory Unit

VFA grants help volunteer fire departments to build capacity for wildland fire protection in the communities they serve. In 2019, Volunteer Fire Assistance grants were awarded to 42 Volunteer Fire Departments in 13 counties for $105,889. Below is VFA grant award information for 2004-2019.

2019 VFA Awards ​

2018 VFA Awards

2017 VFA Awards

2016 VFA Awards

2015 VFA Awards

2014 VFA Awards

2013 VFA Awards

2012 VFA Awards

2011 VFA Awards

2010 VFA Awards

2009 VFA Awards

2008 ​VFA Awards

2007 VFA Awards

2006 VFA Awards

2005 VFA Awards

2004 VFA A​wards