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Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) Grant

Grants to California Rural Fire Departments
for Equipment, Training, and Capacity Building

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE)

Deadline Date:

05/21/20 11:59 PM


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Grants of up to $20,000 to California fire departments serving rural communities to improve firefighting and prevention capacity. Funding is intended to support the purchase of safety and communications equipment, as well as training programs and courses in structural fire and wildfire techniques.

The Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) Program is a Federally-funded grant program that allows California to provide local and rural fire departments with minor firefighting, training, communications and safety equipment for their volunteer firefighters. 

The program provides funding to organize, train, and equip fire departments in rural areas and rural communities to prevent and suppress fires.

Training of local fire forces in both wildfire and structural fire techniques is a primary goal of this program. The program should include a basic training program of at least 40 hours. In addition, an advanced training course of at least 40 hours should be developed.

Communications, for alarm systems and dispatch capabilities, should be considered an integral part of the rural fire department. Funds are available for the development and purchase of radio equipment for dispatching centers, vehicles and alert monitors, and pagers. 

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 157339

Estimated Size of Grant:

Awards for departments are set at a minimum of $500 with a maximum of $20,000. Amounts may be adjusted based on the grant funding available.

Term of Contract:

June 30, 2021: Awarded applicants must have completed their approved project(s).

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Funding for departments must meet at least one of the following qualifications:

1. A single fire department serving a rural area or a rural community with a population of 10,000 or less.

2. Area fire departments (fire districts, townships, etc.) may serve an aggregate population of greater than 10,000 as long as 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.

3. 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 is 10,000 or less. The VFA funding must be used for the rural area.

4. 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 population. Also 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.

A single community fire department serving a population greater than 10,000 and not providing protection to a rural area or to a rural community is not eligible for VFA financial assistance.

This assistance is available only to communities with a population under 10,000, however groups of smaller communities (at least one being 10,000 people or less) may join together in a combined effort to service more than 10,000 people.

Departments not currently in compliance with the NFPA 1977 standard for wildland firefighter safety clothing and equipment will only be considered for awards which bring their department into compliance with this standard. This year’s consideration for grant awards will place a higher priority for funding reimbursement of firefighter PPE purchases and associated training for those Departments not currently meeting the standard.

Proposed projects should be compatible with existing protection of state, county, and local areas. Communities or agencies imposing strict boundary limits, i.e., excluding rural residents will not be considered in this program.

The use of funds for new fire engines and other vehicles are not allowed. However, the cost of the conversion of vehicles obtained through the Federal Excess Personal Property Program (FEPP) to water tenders, engines, brush trucks, and equipment trucks may be funded under the VFA grant program.

Requests for construction projects of any type are not fundable.

Requests for HAZMAT, extrication, rescue, medical aid, and other non-fire training costs or materials are not fundable.

Pre-Application Information:

Applications are to be submitted by e-mail and are due by May 21, 2020 at 11:59 pm. There is no hard copy submission.

Important Dates:

- May 21, 2020: The application must be completed and submitted to the e-mail inbox by 11:59 PM. A scanned signed copy of the application AND the unsigned application in the fillable format must both be sent as attachments.
- August 2020: CAL FIRE anticipates completing the application review process and will notify applicants receiving an award.
- December 1, 2020: Awarded applicants must have completed and submitted their Grant
Agreement package with wet signatures in blue ink to the CAL FIRE Sacramento Headquarters.
- January 31, 2021: CAL FIRE will mail back Grant Agreements with a CAL FIRE signature of approval. Once CAL FIRE approved Grant Agreements are received by awardees funds can be spent.
- June 30, 2021: Awarded applicants must have completed their approved project(s).
- September 1, 2021: All invoices with proof of purchase must be submitted to the CAL FIRE Sacramento Headquarters for processing and reimbursement.

CAL FIRE anticipates completion of the application review process by August 2020.

The organization must have a dUNS number and must be registered with SAM.

The VFA Program has a 50/50 match requirement which means that the applying department must be able to meet the intended grant award, dollar for dollar.

Awards are provided on a reimbursable basis. Recipients must Complete the approved award project(s) using local funds and Then bill cal fire in accordance with the award agreement in Order to receive the award funds.

Contact Information:

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

Please email the two required submissions (one with signature and one without signature in original fillable format) to CALFIRE.GRANTS@FIRE.CA.GOV (In the subject line type “VFA Application” followed by the fire department’s

The Cooperator Program contact is available for questions concerning allowable purchases:
Doug Ferro, Deputy Chief
Phone: (916) 653-8362
FAX: (916) 653-9708

The Cooperator Administrative contact is available for questions concerning invoices, billings, payments, deadlines, application instructions, agreement instructions, and any other administrative issues:

Megan Esfandiary, Grant Analyst

Grants Management Unit
Attn: Megan Esfandiary
P.O. Box 944246
Sacramento, CA

URL for Full Text (RFP):

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