Press Release

Press Release Baker-Polito Administration Awards $90K in Grants to Rural and Volunteer Fire Departments Across the State

The VFA grants are designed to assist municipalities that are home to community volunteer fire departments to respond to wildfires safely and effectively
For immediate release:
  • Department of Conservation & Recreation

Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Awards $90K in Grants to Rural and Volunteer Fire Departments Across the State

Carolyn Assa, Communications Director

Boston — The Baker-Polito Administration today announced that 35 communities have been awarded a total of $89,679 in grant funding through the Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) Program. The VFA Program, which is administered by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, is a competitive grant program offered to non-profit rural call, or volunteer fire departments that serve a community with a population of 10,000 or less. The VFA grants are designed to assist municipalities that are home to community volunteer fire departments to respond to wildfires safely and effectively. The funding provided by these grants assist fire departments in training and prevention efforts, as well as the purchasing of necessary supplies and new equipment that enhance their ability to protect forest resources across the state.

“The Volunteer Fire Assistance Program provides valuable funding that aids the Commonwealth’s local call and volunteer fire departments throughout Massachusetts,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card. “The Baker-Polito Administration is committed to supporting our local public safety crews and understands how important this support is, especially in small, rural areas where resources can serve as a lifeline by enabling training opportunities and the purchasing of necessary emergency fire equipment. ”

The VFA Program is authorized by the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service and administered by DCR on a 50 percent reimbursement basis (reimbursement amounts provide a maximum of $3,000 per community). As the largest landowner in Massachusetts, it is DCR’s mission to partner with municipalities to protect the state’s forests and open spaces.

“The Department of Conservation and Recreation relies on partnerships with municipalities to protect our state’s forests and open spaces and keep residents and visitors safe,” said DCR Acting Commissioner Stephanie Cooper. “The VFA Program grants are a great way to demonstrate our appreciation of our local fire departments as they work to prevent and management fires, as well as safeguarding the public, important infrastructure, and our natural resources.”

To be considered for a VFA grant fire departments must be made up of at least 80 percent call or volunteer firefighters, be a state recognized fire department, and must be National Incident Management System (NIMS) compliant. Eligible projects include firefighter safety, technology transfer, and rural fire defense. Priority is given to projects where at least 25 percent of funding will be used for training. Communities considered for a VFA grant in Massachusetts include high-risk towns adjacent to federal lands, those working in partnership with federal firefighting agencies to respond to wildfires, and those in high-risk areas not associated with federal lands.

“Local call and volunteer fire departments are critical to the efforts to respond to fire incidents quickly and effectively, and to protect citizens and stop fires from spreading through forests and open spaces,” said DCR Chief Fire Warden Dave Celino. “I want to commend town chiefs and forest wardens for their invaluable commitment to their communities, and we are proud to support them in this small way.”

Towns that received an award from this year’s program are:


Award Amount

























South Deerfield
























West Barnstable


















New Braintree




North Brookfield




“The Volunteer Fire Assistance Program grants will give the brave volunteers at fire departments the resources they need to protect our communities and preserve our forests and open spaces,” said Senator Eric P. Lesser (D-Longmeadow). “The efforts of these volunteers are crucial for the well-being of communities throughout the Commonwealth, such as Hampden. I am honored to support them and their important work with these grants.”

“Our local volunteer fire departments are always there when we need them,” said Representative Todd Smola (R-Warren). “These grants demonstrate how grateful we are for their dedicated service.”

“Living in a small town means relying on neighbors to volunteer their time to keep our communities functioning smoothly. These dedicated volunteers are often scrambling for the funding and equipment they need,” said Representative Paul W. Mark (D-Peru). “The Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant program was set up to help steer resources where they are most needed and I am glad to see so many grants being awarded to towns throughout rural Western Massachusetts.”

“As many of our less populated towns have so much forest, these grants will help tremendously in protecting property and more importantly life,” said Representative Susannah Whipps (I-Athol). “I’m grateful to the US Forest Service and the Baker Administration for this assistance.”  

“These grants will provide our volunteer fire departments with additional funding to update their equipment and specialized training for wildfire response and containment,” said Representative John Barrett III (D-North Adams)

To learn more about the Volunteer Fire Assistance Program, please visit DCR’s Bureau of Forest Fire Control and Forestry webpage regarding the program.


Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Awards $90K in Grants to Rural and Volunteer Fire Departments Across the State

Department of Conservation & Recreation 

DCR manages state parks and oversees more than 450,000 acres throughout Massachusetts. It protects, promotes, and enhances the state’s natural, cultural, and recreational resources.