TDA announces fire assistance grant opportunities

Roane County

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Division of Forestry provides communities, groups, and organizations with technical and financial assistance. This year, the division is offering two direct grant programs through the state and is promoting a new federal program. State programs include the Volunteer Fire Assistance and the Hazard Mitigation Assistance grants. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service is offering a Community Wildfire Defense grant.

“An increasing number of our residents live in or near the edge of the forest or other undeveloped land,” State Forester David Arnold said. “In those areas, it’s not if wildland fire will occur, but when. The Division of Forestry encourages community-level fire prevention planning and we are pleased to provide financial resources to improve wildland fire resilience through Fire Adapted Community activities.”

Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant Program

Volunteer fire departments that serve fewer than 10,000 citizens can apply for a Volunteer Fire Assistance Wildland Fire Suppression Kit to supplement a fire department’s wildland firefighting capacity. These kits consist of wildland firefighting personal protective equipment and tools and are valued at approximately $3,000 per kit. The Division will be accepting applications from Sept. 1 through Oct. 14, 2022. Before participating in this program, a volunteer fire department must be legally organized and have a current Memorandum of Understanding with the Division of Forestry. Last year, 75 rural volunteer fire departments received wildland fire suppression kits for a total value of $225,000.

More information about the Volunteer Fire Assistance Program can be found at www.tn.gov/tnwildlandfire/suppression/vfa.html.

Cities, towns, and communities with a risk or potential for loss from wildland fires are eligible to apply for a Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grant. Communities that have developed a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) are eligible for funding to implement hazard mitigation and community education projects of up to $20,000 the first year. In following years, additional grant requests can be submitted annually, with a maximum allowable grant of $10,000 per calendar year. Start-up grants of $1,000 are also available to assist a community in developing a CWPP. The application period for these grants is Sept. 1 through Oct. 14, 2022. Last year, 17 communities were awarded Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grants for a total of $127,000.

More information about the Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program can be found at www.tn.gov/tnwildlandfire/prevention/tennessee-fire-adapted-communities/community-fire-prevention-grants/hazard-mitigation-and-community-education-grants.html

Community Wildfire Defense Grant Program

The application period is now also open for the Community Wildfire Defense Grant Program. This program is administered through the USDA Forest Service and offers financial assistance to at-risk local communities for the development of CWPPs and associated mitigation projectsThis new, five-year, competitive federal program assists at-risk communities, non-profit organizations, and state forestry agencies with planning for and mitigating wildfire risks.

Individual grants will fund up to $250,000 to create and update community wildfire protection plans or conduct outreach and education, and up to $10 million for associated infrastructure and resilience projects. Local and tribal governments are encouraged to conduct planning exercises to assist their communities with wildfire preparedness, response and adaptation efforts. Projects must be completed within five years of the award obligation. The number of projects selected will be determined by available funding, which is $200 million annually.

The new program will also help communities in the wildland urban interface, an area where structures and other human development intermingle with undeveloped wildland or vegetation fuels, meet the three goals of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy to maintain resilient landscapes, create fire-adapted communities, and improve wildfire response.

More information about the Community Wildfire Defense Grant can be found at
www.tn.gov/tnwildlandfire/prevention/tennessee-fire-adapted-communities/community-fire-prevention-grants/community-wildfire-defense-grant.html.