PREPARING FOR WILDFIRES
  • FIRE DEPARTMENT PROGRAMS: RURAL VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (HB 2604)

     2604_1

     

    The Texas Rural VFD Assistance Program provides funding to rural VFDs for the acquisition of firefighting vehicles, fire and rescue equipment, protective clothing, dry-hydrants, computer systems and firefighter training. It is a cost-share program funded by the Texas State Legislature.

    Since its inception in 2002, the program has been extremely successful in helping fire departments get the vehicles, training, and equipment that they would otherwise not have access to. Due to the usefulness of the program, we are experiencing significant demand in excess of $200 million in outstanding requests, while currently being funded at $16.2 million per year. Therefore, while we would like to fund every request, it unfortunately takes some time to help every department in need.   

     

    Active Declared States of Disaster  -  Application

    241 - Severe Wildfire    |    February 23 - June 7

    242 - Severe Weather    |    April 9 - May 17

    243 - Severe Storms and Flooding    |    April 26 - June 14 

     

    Special Announcements 

    FY24 Funding Meeting #3 - August 14, 2024 (tentative)
     
    New Grant Category - Volunteer Recruitment Resources

    2024 TEEX Spring and Municipal Schools: Vouchers are no longer offered, due to a high percentage of nonattendance. Training tuition assistance for these schools can be requested via FireConnect. Grants for meal cards and dorms will still be offered for Municipal School (more information will follow at a later date).

     

    FireConnect Guide Videos

       

      FY 2024 Program Updates/Changes 


       + Eligibility

      Recognized, non-profit volunteer fire departments operated by its members are eligible. Any part-paid/part-volunteer fire department is also eligible, provided the number of paid members is 20 or less. 

      The volunteer fire department must be a recognized fire department, located in and operating within a designated primary protection area as assigned by the county. Primary protection areas cannot overlap. The fire department must be in good standing with the State of Texas and the agency.

       

      Rural Volunteer Fire Department Assistance Program Federal Funding Requirements

       + Rates & Guidelines

       

       
      Rural VFD Assistance Program
      Cost Share Rates and Guidelines
       

       

      Element  

       

      Rate   

       

      Guidelines 

       

       LARGE BRUSH TRUCK/TENDER
       
       

       

      90% of the actual cost not to exceed $240,000 in grant assistance per vehicle. For CAFS equipped vehicles, the maximum grant assistance per vehicle is $258,000   

       

      Truck Guidelines   

      Note: UTVs and ATVs are not eligible in conjunction with awards.  

       

      SMALL BRUSH TRUCK     

       

      90% of the actual cost not to exceed $120,000 in grant   assistance per vehicle. For CAFS equipped vehicles, the maximum grant assistance per vehicle is $138,000  

       

      TRUCK CHASSIS  

       

      90% of the actual cost not to exceed $60,000 in grant assistance per small truck chassis or $100,000 per large truck chassis  

       

      SLIP-ON UNIT
         

       

      90% of the actual cost not to exceed $20,000 in grant assistance. For CAFS equipped slip-on units, the maximum grant assistance per unit is $38,000  

       

      Slip-On Unit Guidelines

       

      FIRE and RESCUE EQUIPMENT
       

      See Fire and Rescue Equipment Guidelines for a list of eligible items

       

       

      90% of the actual cost not to exceed $20,000 in grant assistance  

       

      Fire and Rescue Equipment Guidelines  

       

      PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)  

       
      See PPE Guidelines for a list of eligible items   

       

      90% of the actual cost not to exceed $20,000 in grant assistance  

       

      Personal Protective Equipment Guidelines  

       

      TRAINING AIDS
      Includes: training manual, training videos, subscription training service, projector, rescue mannequins, smoke machines, practice fire shelters, equipment simulation devices, televisions (one per award), and computers/tablets* (one per award)
       

      Other items may be eligible. Please contact Texas A&M Forest Service for approval prior to purchase.

       

      100% of the actual cost not to exceed $10,000 in grant assistance  

       

       

       DRY HYDRANTS  

       

      100% of the actual cost of components not to exceed $1,200 per dry hydrant/components with a maximum of $8,400 in grant assistance
       

       

       

       TRAINING TUITION  

       

      100% of the actual cost of tuition not to exceed $140 per day up to a maximum of $700 per trainee per school. The ANNUAL MAXIMUM for all Training Tuition grant assistance per department is $15,000.  

       

       Training Tuition Guidelines

       

      EMERGENCY GRANTS  

       

      APPARATUS: 90% of the actual cost, not to exceed the maximum for program element.

      ESSENTIAL EQUIPMENT: 100% of the actual cost, not to exceed $15,000 annually or per Declared Disaster.

       

      Available following damages/loss from responding to a Declared State of Disaster or other catastrophic event that significantly compromises community fire protection.

       
      VOLUNTEER RECRUITMENT RESOURCES
       
       
      100% of the actual cost, not to exceed $3,000 per department
       

      Announcement/Guidelines

      Federal Funding Requirements

       

       

      Program ElementReview CycleExpiration Date of Award
      Training TuitionOn demand2 months after the published completion date of the individual training course or school.

      Trucks

      Truck Chassis

      Slip-on Units

      3 times a year12 months from the approval date

      Fire & Rescue Equipment

      Personal Protective Equipment

      Training Aids

      Dry Hydrants

      3 times a year6 months from the approval date
      Volunteer Recruitment ResourcesOn Demand6 Months From Approval Date

      Emergency Grants

      On demand6 months from approval date for repair/replacement; 12 months from approval date for apparatus

       

       Please Note:

      • Failure to provide the necessary documentation to support payment of the grant award within the specified grant period will result in cancellation of the award.
      • Extensions must be requested by the fire department and approved in writing by Texas A&M Forest Service. Each individual extension may be granted for a period not to exceed 6 months.
      • Failure to comply with the grant requirements may result in ineligibilty for future grants.

       

       Applicant Rating Guide

       + Apply

      IMPORTANT: For any request, your department must have an active/approved W-9 Form on FireConnect. A tutorial can be found here.  

       

      To apply for Training Tuition or Apparatus & Equipment grants, and to see the status of existing requests, please visit FireConnect
       
      As we continue integrating our fire department assistance programs into FireConnect, it will become crucial that fire departments keep their profile information up to date. Please take the time to log on to FireConnect, familiarize yourself with this new system, and make sure all of your department information is current. If you find that the size of your primary 911 protection area is incorrect, you can find guidance on how to update that here.

      If you need assistance in updating your information or with navigating FireConnect, please contact us at (979) 458-6505 or at 2604@tfs.tamu.edu.

       

       + FAQS

      General


      Q: If my department is not reporting wildland fires in the Fire Connect Program, does that lessen our rating?
      A: No, the rating for your fire department will not decrease due to lack of reporting wildland fires in the FDD.

       

      Q: How do we go about updating the size of our Primary 911 Protection Area?
      A: Please visit our page on Primary 911 Protection Areas to learn what we define as a primary protection area and how to change this information.

       

      Q: Once I've applied, how do I know where I stand?
      A: You can get a general idea of where you stand by examining the most recent funding meeting list.
      Historical Funding Information

       

      Q: When is the cutoff for applying for the next funding meeting?
      A: The cutoff for applying is always 30 days prior to the funding meeting. We recommend that whenever a need arises, please apply then, rather than waiting. While it is important to get your application in as soon as possible, we are currently funded at $16.2 million and have over $200 million in requests. Therefore, while we would like to fund every request, it unfortunately takes some time to help every department in need.

       

      Q: If my department was previously awarded a grant, but later canceled the request, can we reapply?
      A: Yes, the prior termination has no bearing on future grant opportunities.

       

      Q: Why would our fire department be passed over on the Funding Meeting List?
      A: To insure a wide distribution of funding, departments which are approved in one of the higher dollar value categories (vehicles, truck chassis, slip-on units, etc.) are not considered for additional approvals during the same funding meeting. Applicants may be skipped if they have received $10,000 or more in grant assistance during the previous 12 months. Departments that come up for a truck award will be awarded the truck regardless of the $10,000 rule. Training tuition grants and FFP slip-on units are not included as part of this $10,000 prior approval amount.

       

      Q: Is my department required to order wildland and/or structural PPE from the Firesafe Program upon award of a cost-share grant?
      A: A grant recipient is not required to order wildland and/or structural PPE from the Firesafe Program.

       

      Q: If I received an FFP slip-on unit, does that affect me receiving a grant through the Rural VFD Assistance Program (HB 2604)?
      A: No, FFP slip-on units are not included in the $10,000 rule and therefore do not affect a department receiving a grant. 

       

      Trucks



      Q: If my department was awarded a grant in another category, does it lessen our chances to receive a grant for a truck?
      A: No, grants in other categories do not reflect on vehicle requests.

       

      Q: Is there a limit to how many trucks my department can be awarded over time?
      A: Yes. It is the intent of the program to approve a vehicle grant for every applicant before providing additional vehicle grants to a previous vehicle grant recipient. Because of this, when a department accepts a truck award, they must agree that all their other truck requests will be terminated. They will be able to apply again when the next truck round opens.

       

      Q: Does a large or small chassis count as a truck award?
      A: Yes, both would be considered truck awards.

       

      Q: Does the manufacturer of an apparatus have to be a Texas vendor?
      A: Please see Notice to Purchasers of New Fire Trucks (PDF, 6KB).



      Q: If my department receives an award for a large or small chassis, can we assemble an ambulance or other specialized vehicle?
      A: All vehicle awards must meet the Minimum Standards and Specifications for Firefighting Vehicles (PDF, 9KB).

       

      Q: How does our department receive a grant for a preowned vehicle or equipment?
      A: Approval is given on a case by case basis. Texas A&M Forest Service must give clearance prior to the purchase.


      Preferred maximum vehicle age
      5 years for vehicles rated less than 22,000 pounds GVWR 
      Age limits vary for vehicles rated greater than 22,000 pounds GVWR

      Texas A&M Forest Service must make an evaluation of preowned equipment in advance. Following the evaluation, a grant for a preowned vehicle or equipment will be authorized or denied.



      Q: How long must a grant vehicle be maintained in firefighting service by the original acquiring department?
      A: All vehicles acquired under this program must be maintained in firefighting service for a period of 10 years from the reimbursement check date. If a cost-shared vehicle is sold before the end of its 10-year service life under this program, the fire department may be required to reimburse the program for 90% of the proceeds from the sale of the vehicle. The fire department must notify the Texas A&M Forest Service in advance and must obtain clearance to sell or transfer a grant vehicle before the end of its 10-year service life. The Funding Committee may waive on a case-by-case basis the requirement that 90% of the sale proceeds be returned to the program.

       

      Training


      Q: How long does it take to get an approval letter for training tuition requests?
      A: We work diligently to ensure an approval letter is sent within one week of receiving an application. If there is a large number of applications in a given week, the approval process could take a little longer.

       

      Q: If my department cancels a Training Tuition grant request, does that penalize our department in any way?
      A: No, a cancellation does not affect future grant requests.



      Q: If my department is approved for a Training Tuition grant and the dates of the training change, do we need to submit a new application with the new dates?
      A: Please revise your request on FireConnect. In order for the revision to be approved, the Revision Request must be submitted before the course start date. 



      Q: What should my department do if the number of trainees change in connection with a Training Tuition reimbursement grant?
      A: Please revise your request on FireConnect. In order for the revision to be approved, the Revision Request must be submitted before the course start date.

       + Contact

      Texas A&M Forest Service     
      200 Technology Way, Suite 1162
      College Station, Texas 77845-3424
      Attn: RVFDAP

          

      Phone: 979-458-6505
      Fax: 979-845-6160
      Email: 2604@tfs.tamu.edu

                 

       

      SUBMIT A SUGGESTION

      Texas A&M Forest Service places a high value on public input and participation. The public is welcome to submit suggestions regarding the Rural VFD Assistance Program (HB2604) by email, mail, fax or in person.

       

      pdf logo Suggestion Form

       

      Email:2604@tfs.tamu.edu


      Mail: Attn: RVFDAP Suggestions
               Texas A&M Forest Service
               Capacity Building Department
               200 Technology Way, Suite 1162
               College Station, Texas 77845-3424

      Fax: 979-845-6160

      Public Meeting...

      A public meeting is held each year to receive public input and suggestions regarding the Rural Volunteer Fire Department Assistance Program. The meeting is publicized fourteen days in advance. It takes place at the Texas A&M Forest Service Headquarters and is open to everyone.

      For more information...

      Call: 979-458-6505

       

       

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