Pennsylvania offers grants for fighting wildfires
As the spring wildfire season ramps up, volunteer fire departments in small or rural communities can look to the state for grants to help offset the high cost of fighting wildfires.
State officials said fire departments in rural areas or communities with fewer than 10,000 residents can qualify for up to $10,000 this year for training and equipment purchases directly related to fighting brush and forest fires.
The costs of fighting wildfires, many of which are the result of arson, adds up for small companies.
The Tribune-Review previously reported arson was the most common cause of wildfires in Pennsylvania in 2010 and 2011. A combined 252 fires burned 1,819 acres, DCNR statistics show. Coming in second in both years were fires caused by debris burning, which accounted for a combined 218 fires over 460 acres.
The cost of extinguishing all fires statewide in those two years was about $722,000.
Between 2012 and 2015, 676 incendiary fires burned more than 6,000 acres of wildlands in the state, making it the second-leading cause behind debris burning which caused 1,394 fires on 2,728 acres, statistics show.
Fire-extinguishing costs for those four years topped $2 million.
“Spring’s warming temperatures, sunny days, and strong winds all combine to usher in wildfire dangers that emphasize the value of having well-trained and well-equipped local firefighting forces in rural areas,” Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said.
Grant applications for wildfire assistance must be electronically submitted through DCNR’s grant website by 4 p.m. May 2. To expedite application and decision-making processes, DCNR is accepting only online applications. Applicants should visit www.dcnr.pa.gov and click on Communities then Grants.
Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 412-320-7996, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .