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National Park Service Provides Funding for Rural Fire Assistance

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Date: February 5, 2007
Contact: Mike Carlbom, (605) 433-5279
Contact: Julie Johndreau, (605) 433-5242

BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK, S.D. — The National Park Service (NPS), in conjunction with Badlands National Park, recently provided funding for Rural Fire Assistance to the Kadoka Volunteer Fire Department (VFD). The Kadoka VFD received $13,000 to purchase hand-held portable radios. The additional radios will provide better communication among firefighters responding to wildland fires. The greatest benefit of the additional radios is increased firefighter safety during wildland firefighting operations.

The Congressionally authorized 2001 Interior Appropriations Act, allocated Department of the Interior agencies $10 million to enhance the fire protection capability of rural fire departments (RFD's). Of this amount, the NPS received $1.17 million for rural fire assistance. Historically, the NPS has had no capability to fund these small rural fire departments.

"Kadoka VFD met the requirements of the assistance program," explained Badlands Wildland Fire Coordinator Mike Carlbom. "The rural fire districts must have a cooperative agreement with the NPS and they must serve a community with a population of less than ten thousand." Carlbom also explained that the Kadoka VFD shared 10% of the final equipment purchase price.

The Rural Fire Assistance program is primarily designed to increase firefighter safety and enhance the fire protection capabilities of rural fire departments. This is achieved by assisting those departments in meeting or exceeding accepted standards of wildland fire qualifications, training, and performance. Emphasis is placed on departments that protect rural communities and play a substantial cooperative role in the protection of federal lands.

Of the 388 units managed by the NPS, at least 245 experience wildland fires either originating within the unit, or igniting outside and threatening the park. Particularly in the smaller units, significant assistance from adjacent small communities' rural or volunteer fire departments is required to respond to wildland fires. In many cases, those fire departments are the only firefighting resources available to assist the parks.

Did You Know?

Hikers in the Badlands Wilderness Area

Badlands National Park maintains an open backcountry policy for exploration of its rugged landscape. While the park has no formal backcountry permit or reservation system, hikers are advised to stop at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center for planning assistance, safety tips, directions, and regulations.