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Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant Program

Grants to Rural Illinois Fire Agencies for
Training, Organization, & Equipment Expenses

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forest Resources in cooperation with U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service

Deadline Date:

04/30/21 4:00 PM Central Time


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Grants of up to $10,000 to Illinois fire agencies to support and improve fire protection in small communities. Applicants must complete required registrations prior to submitting an application. Grant funds may be used for PPE, training, equipment, and materials. Eligible applicants are fire districts, fire protection districts, and fire departments in communities with a total population of under 10,000 people.

This program provides financial, technical and related assistance for organizing, training and equipping rural fire departments. Goals include preventing and suppressing rural fires and enhancing protection capabilities by assisting rural communities at risk in the wildland urban interface.

Items eligible for the VFA Grant Program include:

  • Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA)
  • Protective clothing
  • Training and necessary equipment
  • Installation of Dry Hydrants to improve water supplies for fire suppression
  • Communication equipment
  • New motorized vehicle, such as ATV
  • Used fire truck or other used motorized vehicles
  • Skid or slide in units
  • Conversion of Federal Excess Personal Property vehicles to water tenders and engines
  • Implementation of Class A foam technology to improve the fire suppression effectiveness of water

The types of projects that have been funded in previous grants include radios, hose, SCBA, turn out gear, wildland PPE, hand tools, chainsaws, backpack blowers, modifying federal excess vehicles and equipment and other equipment. For more examples of eligible projects and past funded projects, see

Special Consideration (not in priority order)

  • For initial conversion of federal excess trucks into support or attack vehicle
  • Fire agencies protecting groups with special legal considerations
  • Improved fire protection to public lands and their facilities
  • Improved fire protection wildland/urban interface areas
  • Improved fire protection in the geographical areas of greatest need
  • For agencies who have suffered a loss of over 50% of the asset value (not including real estate values) of their Fire agency's equipment which was not covered by insurance
  • Purchase and installation of acceptable communications equipment
  • Purchase and installation of dry hydrants
  • Fire agencies with multiple mutual aid agreements

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 157455

Number of Grants:


Estimated Size of Grant:

The grant funds fire projects at 50% of the cost of a project up to $10,000 per department. Forestry’s portion is up to $10,000, the Department may spend as much as they need to complete the project. No one item can be $5,000 or more.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Eligibility for the VFA Grant Program:
- Only Fire Agencies defined as Fire Department, Fire District, or Fire Protection District
- Total population of the community protected must be under 10,000 people
- Must have a current Memorandum of Understanding with IDNR
- Local funds must be available at the time of application
- Further details may be found in the current grant application packet

Eligible recipients are limited to the following entities:
- A single fire department serving a rural area or a rural community with a population of 10,000 or less (latest Census).
- Area fire departments (fire districts, townships, etc.) may serve an aggregate population of greater than 10,000 if the service area of the fire department includes a rural area or a rural community having a population of 10,000 or less. The VFA funding must be used to benefit the rural population.
- A single county or town with a population over 10,000 which is served by two or more fire districts operating entirely within the bounds of the county or town may qualify as long as the service area of a given fire department includes a rural area or a rural community or the population of the fire department’s jurisdiction includes a rural area or a rural community or the population of the fire department’s jurisdiction is 10,000 or less. The VFA funding must be used for the rural area.
- A single community with a population greater than 10,000 and having a single fire department with one or more fire stations may qualify. The fire department must have a service area that includes a rural area or community that does not exceed 10,000 in population. The VFA funding must be used only for the benefit of the rural population. Similarly, a single community with a population greater than 10,000 which also provides fire protection to an adjoining rural community of 10,000 or less population by contract may also be eligible provided the VFA funding is used entirely to support the rural community.

The funds can only be used for fire projects, EMS, HazMat or crash rescue are not eligible.

Items NOT eligible for the VFA Grant Program include:
- New fire trucks
- Construction expenses for fire stations or training facilities
- Emergency medical equipment
- Rescue equipment

For more examples of ineligible projects, see

Pre-Application Information:

The application deadline is April 30th, 2021 at 4 p.m. Central Time.

There are now five grantee pre-award requirements statewide per the Grant Accountability and Transparency Act (GATA) State Statute 30 ILCS 708/1. The five pre-award requirements all state grantees must complete are described in more detail at

All grantees must register with the State of Illinois at

All entities must be qualified to do business with the State of Illinois. To be qualified for an FFY21 grant award, an entity must:
- Have a current DUNS number (sign up for free at;
- Have a current SAMS Cage# (sign up for free at;
- Must not be on the Federal Excluded Parties List;
- Must not be on the State of Illinois Stop Pay List;
- And be in good standing with the Illinois Secretary of State.

Cost Sharing or Matching: VFA will reimburse up to 50% of total approved project costs. Any remaining costs over the approved project costs will be borne by the project sponsor. VFA grants are issued as reimbursement grants. This means that a project sponsor must have sufficient cash, donation, or eligible in-kind services to pay for work, and then be paid back for the grant work after approval of a reimbursement request.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Grant applications for funding assistance under this program shall be submitted via email to

If you have any questions or need assistance with a grant application, please email or call 217-524-9628.

To contact the IDNR with questions related to this grant, please use the following means:
By US Mail:
IL Dept. of Natural Resources (ATTN: Adrian Walker)
One Natural Resources Way
Springfield, IL 62702
phone: 217.524.9628

Funding or Pin Number:

CSFA Number: 422-20-0094

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Illinois

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