MDC announces 2016 matching grant funds are available for fire departments

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has announced that applications are being accepted through Oct. 30 for the 2016 Volunteer Fire Assistance Matching Grant Program.

In order to qualify, fire departments must serve a population of 10,000 or fewer and match every dollar they're granted. The maximum amount available is $3,000. If the fire department has a complete, MDC-approved Community Wildfire Protection Plan, it can access an additional $1,000 in matching funds.

"This grant program is designed to help fire departments purchase wildfire suppression equipment that they would not otherwise be able to afford," said MDC Forest Field Programs Supervisor Ben Webster. "It means increased safety for the firefighters and better protection in forested areas."

For those who have been involved in the grant program before, Webster says the application timeline has been changed from previous years.

"Due to some changes in how we process the applications, our deadline has been moved up to the end of October," said Webster. "If you've applied in the past, keep this in mind and don't miss your opportunity."

Grant funds can be used on everything from radios and other communication equipment to chainsaws, hoses, and hand tools. While applicants can also apply for equipment to fight structure fires, preference will be given to those applying for wildfire equipment. Grant funds will be released to fire departments in summer 2016.

Over the last 30 years, MDC has distributed more than $7.5 million to rural fire departments to help them increase the safety of their firefighters and provide them with better firefighting equipment. Funding for the program is provided by MDC and the US Forest Service Volunteer Fire Assistance Program.

The application form and other details can be found online on MDC's website at Fire departments can also contact MDC Fire Program Supervisor Ben Webster at 573-522-4115, ext. 3113, for more information.