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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 is 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 online 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). Items loaned through this program may be used for fire protection purposes only.

If you are interested in more information about FEPP equipment, contact Darren Bridges, State Fire Coordinator, at Fire Headquarters at 765-792-4654 or
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, firehoses, 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 more than 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 be used to protect only 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 funding cannot be used for truck chassis, capital improvements to a fire station, or EMS equipment or supplies. This is a 50/50 grant, and 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 for the Volunteer Fire Assistance program, contact Mark Huter, Assistant State Fire Coordinator, at 765-792-4654 or

Firefighting Hand Tool Program

If you are interested in the handtool program and would like information, contact Mark Huter at 795-792-4654 or

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