Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) Grant Program

Each year, federal funds are provided to the DFE Forest Fire Program to assist towns with the purchase of forest fire equipment or to provide forest fire training.

The VFA program is funded through the US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service (USFS). The objective of the VFA program is to improve the capacity and capability of fire departments in rural areas and rural communities to prevent and suppress wildfires. (A rural community is defined as having 10,000 or less population.)

Applicants can request from $1,000 - $2,500 in grant funds. This is a 50/50 match grant and is paid on a reimbursement basis only.

Yearly Grant Timeline:

  • June 15 - Aug 1: Grant application period closes at 4:00 PM, and may be submitted electronically.
  • Aug: Applications are reviewed by members of the Division of Forest Environment and the Rhode Island Forest Fire Advisory Committee.
  • Sept: Applicants are informed of the status of their application and sent grant documents for signature. Applicants immediately return the signed and notarized documents to the grant administrator.
  • Contract time frame: Date you formally receive award notification to June 15, 2024. Projects must be completed and invoiced within that timeframe.
  • Oct 1: Final deadline for returning signed grant documents. Applicants that have not returned their signed contract documents by this date will have their funds re-awarded by the grant administrator and the awarded funds will no longer be available to the applicant.
  • June 15: Deadline for project completion. If the project is not completed by this date, no reimbursement will be made.
  • July 30: Reimbursement and match documentation are due if not submitted previously. Reimbursement requests may be submitted upon project completion if occurring sooner than the end of the grant period; however, reimbursement requests submitted after this date may not be reimbursed.

Before proceeding, please make sure you have read through the Grant Guidelines and FAQs and confirmed your eligibility.

Steps to completing an application:

  • NARRATIVE – on 1 sheet of paper
    • Describe the project and how it meets the goals of wild land fire suppression in your community.
    • Describe how the project adheres to the guidelines.
  • BUDGET – On separate sheet of paper, if needed:
    • List the budget – supplies – labor – equipment – source of match
  • APPLICATION - fill out form
  • READ Complying with Civil Rights Requirements before completing
  • COMPLETE Financial Capability Checklist
  • SUBMIT your completed application to arrive by the 4pm deadline:
    • Mail: Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant Program, 260 Arcadia Rd, Hope Valley, RI 02832
    • Email: Nancy.Stairs@dem.ri.gov

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It is advised that all purchases are paid at least one month before the end date of the grant, to ensure you can meet the reimbursement submission deadline stated on your signed contract and on the Purchase Order you received from DFE.

And REMEMBER: If you must request copies of cancelled checks from your bank, make that request in time request to allow for the bank to respond. This can take up to a month, depending on when the check was cashed.

  • Complete and submit the required paperwork, listed below, by the contract deadline
  • All forms must be signed, proof of payment for all invoices and any match documentation must be attached at final submission.

NOTE: Request for reimbursement can be made at any time during the contract period and before the contract deadline, once the project is completed and the match requirements have been met.

The Request for payment must include the following documentation:

  • FORM - Complete the Request for Reimbursement Form with the signature of the authorized person of the department. Please submit with an original signature.

    Include the exact amount of the project and the amount to be reimbursed.
    • The reimbursement amount can be no greater than the amount awarded and stated in the contract.
    • The reimbursement amount cannot be more than 50% of the match provided, even if that amount is less than the original amount awarded (see the grant application information for clarification).
  • INVOICES - Include a copy of each invoice with reference to payment method, and check number if applicable. Attach legible proof of payment to each invoice.
  • PROOF OF PAYMENT - Include a copy of each invoice with reference to payment method, and check number if applicable. Attach legible proof of payment to each invoice.
    • Checks: copy of FRONT AND BACK of each check
    • Credit cards: copy of the STATEMENT; copy of FRONT AND BACK of each check used to pay the statement, or banking statement if not paid by a written check
  • MATCH DOCUMENTATION, if not cash.

    If match is being provided using volunteer hours:
    • the rate for volunteers is $24.34 per hour
    • Attach sign-in sheets for personnel, including hours, or attach a signed letter from the Chief or project coordinator with the dates, names and hours of the personnel who participated in the work.
  • SUBMIT the reimbursement request to: Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant Program, 260 Arcadia Rd, Hope Valley, RI 02832

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