Funds have. been made available to the Arkansas Forestry Commission to grant to rural fire departments for the purchase of firefighting equipment.

This money is authorized under the Volunteer Fire Assistance Act, :and the National Fire Plan, according to John Blackburn, Rural Fire Protection Administrator.

Forestry Commission officials administer the program to Rural Fire Departments, (710,000 in population or less, and 75 percent volunteer) to purchase firefighting equipment. The purpose of this program is to improve training and equip local

forces to prevent, control, and suppress fires in rural areas.

Applicants seeking a VFA grant from the Forestry Commission must provide a 1-to-l match ($2,000 equipment purchase to qualify for $1,000 grant).

Forestry Commission officials solicit cost-share grant proposals from fire departments that serve communities of 110,000 people or fewer, review the grant proposals, and consider statewide needs when determining awards. The U.S. Forest

Service provides the funding and oversight for the program. Applications from qualifying communities will be taken at Forestry Commission offices through Aug. 16, 2013.

The grant money will be used for the purchase of firefighting equipment, excluding vehicles and buildings. The District 7 office is in Greenbrier.