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Contact: Jennifer Chapman, 415-464-5133
The National Park Service announced today that three fire departments near Point Reyes National Seashore have received grants for Rural Fire Assistance (RFA) in conjunction with the National Fire Plan. The RFA grant program supports the fire protection capabilities of rural and volunteer fire departments that fight wildland fires near or on Department of the Interior lands.
Inverness Public Utility District received $4,579; Bolinas Fire Protection District received $5,906; and Nicasio Volunteer Fire Department received $9,149. All three departments will use these funds to acquire new generation fire shelters.
The new generation fire shelters have been under development for several years, and have recently become available. The new shelters are more round in design, and provide better protection from direct flames, but should continue to be used only as a last resort. "If we are doing our jobs right, most firefighters will never have to deploy a fire shelter during their career, except in training exercises," said Roger Wong, Fire Management Officer for the Seashore. "But, we want to be sure our partners have the best equipment available."
Nicasio will also purchase other standard gear to outfit volunteer firefighters, including fire resistant clothing, gloves, safety helmets, fire boots, and a supply of wildland hose.
The Department of the Interior Rural Fire Assistance Program is an important component of the National Fire Plan, which assists rural fire departments in meeting basic needs for equipment, training and fire prevention work on a cost-share basis. The RFA program was initiated to improve local fire protection capacity in rural areas which often rely heavily on volunteer firefighting forces. The safety of both rural and cooperating federal firefighters is enhanced when local departments are fully equipped with the proper personal protective equipment and essential tools for wildland firefighting.
To be eligible, a fire department must have an existing mutual aid agreement with a Department of Interior Agency and serve a community of less than 10,000 people near federal lands. Annual awards are limited to a maximum of $20,000 per fire department, and each department must provide a matching cost share of at least 10%, which can include in-kind services. Department of Interior agencies participating in the RFA program include the National Park Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Rural Fire Assistance Program was initiated in the wake of the 2000 fire season, when Congress recognized that safe and effective protection in the wildland-urban interface requires close coordination among local, state, Tribal and federal firefighting resources. Additionally, Congress acknowledged that rural and volunteer fire departments responding to wildland fires needed to improve overall firefighter safety and enhance their wildland fire protection capabilities. To this end, Congress authorized establishment of the RFA Program and appropriated $10 million to the Department of the Interior to initiate the program.