Volunteer Fire Assistance Program

fire camp crew

Objectives of the Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) Grant Program

  • Provide financial, technical, and related assistance to rural volunteer fire departments and their communities.
  • Award VFA sub-grants of up to $3500 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 if 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 – maximum payment of $3500).
  • Grants will not be approved for medical, rescue, or HAZMAT equipment; capital construction projects; or vehicle purchases.

Awarding Grants

  • Annually, VFA Grants requests from Volunteer Fire Departments exceed the amount of money that we receive, to distribute. This makes the applying for the VFA grants a competitive process.
  • Grant applications are rated using a “points system” applied to each of the questions in the application.
  • There is a standard points deduction for grants awarded to your VFD for each of the three years prior to the grant year that you would be applying for.
  • The type of equipment requested receives a different priority (points). Equipment that is primarily for wildland firefighting receives the highest priority (most points) and equipment that is primarily for structural firefighting, but also useful for wildland firefighting, receives a slightly lower priority (less points).
  • Equipment with no application to wildland firefighting is disqualified from the VFA grant process.
  • After all the applications are scored using the points system and ranked (highest total points to lowest), grants are then awarded until that year’s federal funding is depleted.

VFA Grants can be used for (but not limited to):

  • NFPA approved Wildland firefighting personal protective equipment (PPE) such as lightweight flame-resistant clothing (pants, shirts, coveralls, jackets), hard hats, eye protection, leather gloves, hearing protection, chainsaw chaps, and fire shelters.
  • Wildland fire fighting power tools such as chainsaws or leaf blowers.
  • Wildland firefighting equipment such as fire hose (Less than 2.5 inches in diameter), nozzles (1.5 inch and smaller), adapters, reducers, gated Y’s (1.5 inches or less), bladder bags & bladder bag hand pumps, wildland gear, and chainsaw supplies (bars, chains, wedges, scabbards, etc.).
  • Wildland fire engine and UTV pumping units (tanks, pumps, hose reels, slip-on units, etc.).
  • Rehabilitating wildland firefighting related equipment obtained through federal excess programs (FFP, FEPP).
  • Fire Communications equipment (pagers, portable and mobile radios).
  • Offroad all-terrain and utility vehicles (ATVs/ UTVs).
  • Equipment for ATVs & UTVs that support wildland fire fighting.
  • Wildland firefighting training (includes tuition for VFD personnel to take National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) wildfire or chainsaw training.

VFA Grants Cannot be used for (but not limited to):

  • Any type of capital improvements (purchasing land, purchasing buildings, constructing buildings, or rehabilitating buildings).
  • Purchasing Vehicles.
  • Purchasing any type of equipment that has the sole use of structural firefighting, hazardous Material response, rescue, or emergency medical services.
  • Fire hose larger than 2.5 inches in diameter.

Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) Grant Application Package for 2024

The 2024 Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) Grant application period is now open and closes on August 15, 2024 at 4:00 p.m. Purchases must occur between January 1, 2024 and December 31, 2024 for approved grants. Even though you would be applying “after the fact”, you can submit a VFA application for purchases relevant to wildland firefighting made since January 1, 2024. The 2024 grant application can be found at:

Application Form Portal

If you have any questions or issues applying online, please contact Derek Albers at 410-490- 8592 or derek.albers@maryland.gov.

The Grant Application Process & Timeline:

  1. Submit your web-based application before 4:00 p.m. August 15, 2024.
  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 30, 2024, if your VFA application was approved or denied.
  4. If awarded a VFA grant, you will receive supporting documentation that will need to be submitted after purchases have occurred. This will include a Memorandum of understanding.
  5. Purchases would then need to occur before December 31, 2024 and supporting documentation must be submitted by January 15, 2025.
  6. After the requested supporting documentation is submitted and received, the Maryland Forest Service will reimburse the VFD based on the 50/50 cost share agreement ($3500 maximum payment). The payment cannot exceed the amount the VFD requested in the original VFA grant application.
  7. After the necessary documentation has been received, the MD Forest Service will have 45 days to reimburse the VFD.

Volunteer Fire Assistance Grants Award

VFA grants help volunteer fire departments build the capacity for wildland fire protection in the communities they serve. In 2023, Volunteer Fire Assistance grants were awarded to 53 Volunteer Fire Departments in fifteen counties for $149,325. Below is VFA grant award information for 2004-2023.

2023 VFA Awards

2022 VFA Awards

2021 VFA Awards

2020 VFA Awards

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