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Pennsylvania Firefighter Jobs Get Volunteer Grants

Volunteers with Pennsylvania firefighter jobs now have the opportunity to get their hands on some grant money.

Gov. Edward G. Rendell recently announced that about $559,200 in federal grant funds are available to help the state’s rural communities guard against fires in forested, undeveloped and unprotected areas. The grants are offered through the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, with funds coming from the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

About 200 volunteer firefighter companies throughout the state were helped with the grants during 2008 and more than $7.5 million has been awarded since 1982. A total of $559,200 in federal funds is being made available to Pennsylvania volunteers this year. Nearly 200 fire companies across the state were helped with grants through the program in 2008.

“One only has to look back a few weeks to the deadly brush fires in Australia to understand and appreciate the value of having well-trained, well-equipped local firefighting forces in rural areas,” Rendell said in a press release. “Here at home, many brave volunteers faithfully answer the call to battle brush and forest fires across Pennsylvania. These men and women deserve nothing but the very best training and equipment these grants help achieve.”

The Bureau of Forestry is already accepting grant applications, which must be received at the Harrisburg headquarters of DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry by 4 p.m. on May 1. Grant applications may also be filed online at the 2009 Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant Web site.

Priority will be given to those who are seeking funds for projects that include the purchase of wildfire suppression equipment and protective clothing. Grants also may be used for mobile or portable radios, installation of dry hydrants, wildfire prevention and mitigation, wildfire fighter training or conversion and maintenance of federal excess vehicles received from the bureau to be used for fire suppression.

Grants for any project during one fiscal year cannot exceed 50 percent of the actual expenditures of local, public and private non-profit organizations in the agreement. The maximum grant considered to any company will be $7,500 and all items under the program must be purchased between Oct. 1, 2008 and Nov. 30, 2009.

“Last spring was a very busy season for the Bureau of Forestry, which is responsible for protecting our state woodlands from fire,” DCNR Secretary Michael DiBerardinis said in the press release. “These grants play an important role in helping to better organize, train and equip local firefighting forces in rural areas.

“As development continues to encroach upon large, forested tracts, the number of homes and communities in Pennsylvania’s wooded and rural areas continues to grow each year, and so, too, does the threat of wildfires,” DiBerardinis added.