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Help for Rural Fire Departments

Federal Excess Personal Property program

Low-Cost Fire Protection for Rural America:

The Federal Excess Personal Property (FEPP) program allows for the screening and acquisition of excess military equipment. FEPP is a cooperative program between the USDA Forest Service, State and Private Forestry and the Indiana Division of Forestry. This equipment is then made available to rural and volunteer fire departments for conversion to firefighting apparatus. This equipment includes vehicles, generators, fire equipment, etc.

The equipment is made available under a cooperative lease agreement. There is no cost to the department to obtain this equipment. However, the federal government maintains all titles. Cooperating departments must obtain a license plate and maintain liability insurance on any equipment that operated on a highway. Departments have one year to put the equipment in service and are authorized to keep the equipment as long as it is operated in according to the lease agreement.

Departments must first submit an application to be considered for FEPP equipment. The application will be valid for two years. At the end of that time, a new application is necessary for the department to remain in the system.

The FEPP program is authorized under terms of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, as amended (40 USC 483), and the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978 (16 USC 2106 (note)). Items loaned through this program may be used for fire protections purposes only.

If you are interested in receiving an application for FEPP equipment, contact Darren Bridges, State Fire Coordinator at Fire Headquarters (765) 342-4701, or email at dbridges@dnr.IN.gov.

Available Equipment:

Most items loaned in the FEPP program are from military installations, with trucks suitable for conversion to tankers or pumpers being preferred. Other common items on loan include generators, pumps, fire hoses, breathing apparatus, and personal protective clothing. Power units can be used to provide emergency lighting at fires or to keep radio base stations functioning, and water trailers can be converted for use as lavatories for larger incidents.

Volunteer Fire Assistance Matching Grant Program formerly RCFP

The Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) program (formerly Rural Community Fire Protection) was founded in 1975. Each year, the Indiana Division of Forestry receives federal VFA funds that are then allocated to rural and volunteer fire departments. The program's goal is to provide financial assistance to organize, train and equip fire departments in rural areas and communities to prevent and suppress fires.

The VFA program defines a rural fire department as a recognized fire protection organization providing primary fire protection to a specific rural area or rural community. A rural community may be unincorporated or it may be an incorporated city, town, or other entity having a population of 10,000 or less. A city having a population of over 10,000 may qualify for VFA funding if the fire department also protects a separate rural area or community. In the case of a community department with a population greater than 10,000 that also protects a separate rural area or community, the VFA funds may only be used to protect the rural entity.

Some examples of qualifying projects include, but are not limited to: fire prevention/education materials, training equipment and supplies, water handling equipment, organization (new departments only), communications equipment (pagers, radios), dry hydrants, class "A" foam technology, and safety gear (PASS alarms, SCBAs, turn-out gear). The grant monies cannot be utilized for truck chassis, capital improvements to a fire station or EMS equipment or supplies. The application deadline is March 1 of each grant year. Departments are given two years to complete their projects. This program is one of the most cost-efficient financial assistance programs with nearly all funds going to local fire protection agencies.

For more information or to receive an application for the Volunteer Fire Assistance Program contact Mark T. Huter at (765) 342-4701 or mhuter@dnr.IN.gov.

Fire Fighting Hand tool Program

The Division of Forestry has funds available for the purchase of wildland firefighting handtools. Tools are purchased in large quantities through the State's competitive bid process or through the General Services Administration. These tools are then made available to cooperating rural and volunteer fire department without charge. A compliment of handtools consists of the following: six Council Rakes, two Collapsible Broom Rakes, four Fire Swatters, two Fire Shovels and, two Backpack Pumps. Departments that receive tools will be asked to sign a cooperative mutual aid agreement (sample provided upon request). The current program provides a limited amount of funding. Departments will receive these tools with priority given to departments who have never received tools and as the tools become available. Departments who have not received tools for 10 years will have second priority to Departments who have never received tools.

If you are interested in the handtool program and would like information and an application contact Mark T. Huter at (765) 342-4701 or mhuter@dnr.IN.gov.

Application Information

To receive any type of assistance (e.g. Volunteer Fire Assistance funds, Federal Excess Personal Property equipment or the Hand tool program) complete a standard application. The following are a few guidelines to remember when applying for one or more of these programs:

  1. Completely fill out all parts of the application.
  2. When the application is completed, make a copy and keep it on file at the department.
  3. When applying for more than one type of assistance, attach a new application with each addendum (copies are acceptable).

If you would like to receive an application for the FEPP equipment, VFA matching grant program or the Hand tool program contact Mark Huter, Assistant State Fire Coordinator, at Fire Headquarters (765) 342-4701 or email mhuter@dnr.IN.gov.