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Volunteer Fire Assistance Program

Program Overview:

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry administers the USDA Forest Service’s VFA funds. The funds are for rural and small fire departments. The grant funds fire projects at 50% of the cost of a project up to $10,000 per department. Forestry’s portion is up to $10,000, the Department may spend as much as they need to complete the project. No one item can be $5,000 or more. The funds can only be used for fire projects, EMS, HazMat or crash rescue are not eligible. The funds are awarded based on competitive applications. Applications will be posted on Forestry’s web site. The Office of the State Fire Marshall will send out a blast email and post it on their web site and the Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI) will also post it on their web site. Once the application is posted, Departments will have three months to submit their applications. The types of projects that have been funded in previous grants include radios, hose, SCBA, turn out gear, wildland PPE, hand tools, chainsaws, backpack blowers, modifying federal excess vehicles and equipment and other equipment. For more information Contact Forestry’s Wildland Fire Program Manager 217/782-8774.

Eligibility for the VFA Grant Program:

  • Only Fire Agencies defined as Fire Department, Fire District, or Fire Protection District
  • Total population of the community protected must be under 10,000 people
  • Must have a current Memorandum of Understanding with IDNR
  • Local funds must be available at the time of application
  • Further details may be found in the current grant application packet

Items eligible for the VFA Grant Program include:

  • Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA)
  • Protective clothing
  • Training and necessary equipment
  • Installation of Dry Hydrants to improve water supplies for fire suppression
  • Communication equipment
  • New motorized vehicle, such as ATV
  • Used fire truck or other used motorized vehicles
  • Skid or slide in units
  • Conversion of Federal Excess Personal Property vehicles to water tenders and engines
  • Implementation of Class A foam technology to improve the fire suppression effectiveness of water

Items NOT eligible for the VFA Grant Program include:

  • New fire trucks
  • Construction expenses for fire stations or training facilities
  • Emergency medical equipment
  • Rescue equipment

Special Consideration (not in priority order)

  • For initial conversion of federal excess trucks into support or attack vehicle
  • Fire agencies protecting groups with special legal considerations
  • Improved fire protection to public lands and their facilities
  • Improved fire protection wildland/urban interface areas
  • Improved fire protection in the geographical areas of greatest need
  • For agencies who have suffered a loss of over 50% of the asset value (not including real estate values) of their Fire agency's equipment which was not covered by insurance
  • Purchase and installation of acceptable communications equipment
  • Purchase and installation of dry hydrants
  • Fire agencies with multiple mutual aid agreements

Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant Program Application Package:

Contact Information:
Matthew Bernhardt (Fire Department Liason)
Cell: 217-299-3790