Last week, the Texas A&M Forest Service announced the allocation of more than $15.7 million in assistance grants to 260 rural volunteer fire departments across the state through the Rural Volunteer Fire Department Assistance Grant Program.
Jason Keiningham, the Department Head of Capacity Building at the Texas A&M Forest Service, expressed gratitude towards state leadership, stating, "Our agency is very thankful to state leadership for allowing us the opportunity to assist volunteer fire departments in Texas. Without question, volunteer fire departments in Texas are among the best in the nation, and they make a huge difference in the lives of people on their worst days."
The funds provided by these grants are intended to reimburse rural volunteer fire departments for various equipment purchases, including fire trucks, training aids, slip-ons, chassis, and various fire and rescue equipment. Notably, the grants will facilitate the acquisition of 70 new fire trucks.
Keiningham emphasized the shared mission of safeguarding life and property, stating, "We have a shared mission to protect life and property, and therefore, it is our wish for our first responders to be equipped and well-trained to handle a wide array of emergencies."
The distribution of grants to rural volunteer fire departments was facilitated through the Texas A&M Forest Service's recently introduced FireConnect tool. This tool streamlines the grant application and distribution process for both the Texas A&M Forest Service and the recipient rural volunteer fire departments.
Established in 2002, the Texas Rural Volunteer Fire Department Assistance Program serves as a crucial source of funding for rural volunteer fire departments. It supports the acquisition of firefighting vehicles, fire and rescue equipment, protective clothing, dry-hydrants, computer systems, and firefighter training. The assistance program operates as a cost-share initiative funded by the Texas State Legislature.
For the current year, the Texas Rural Volunteer Fire Department Assistance Program is equipped to provide $21 million in grants to rural volunteer fire departments. Since its inception, the program has allocated over $336 million to support the vital work of rural volunteer fire departments across Texas.
Volunteer fire departments interested in applying for future grants can explore grant processes and opportunities here: FireConnect.