Rural Fire Assistance

Rural Fire Assistance

Frequently Asked Questions


  1. Where can I find information on the RFA program?
  2. Are announcements posted for each refuge or regional RFA program on Grants.gov?
  3. How were the RFA allocations made?
  4. What agencies are eligible for grants?
  5. Can block grants be made to states or large fire districts for distribution to other departments?
  6. What information is required in applications?
  7. Can we change the required forms?
  8. What type of grants can departments apply for?
  9. How are the value of in-kind goods or services calculated?
  10. Are FWS awards coordinated with awards from other agencies?
  11. Can fire departments purchase gear and equipment through General Services Administration (GSA)?
  12. Can FWS units donate property (vehicles, computers, gear, tools, etc.) to fire departments?
  13. Can FWS units loan property (vehicles, computers, gear, tools, etc.) to fire departments?

1. Where can I find information on the RFA program?

Information on the RFA program can be found on the Department of the Interior Rural Fire Assistance web site.

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2. Are announcements posted for each refuge or regional RFA program on Grants.gov?

No. Announcements are posted only for the entire FWS and/or DOI RFA program.

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3. How were the RFA allocations made?

Allocations are made based on the number of cooperative agreements with eligible fire departments.

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4. What agencies are eligible for grants?

Eligibility requirements include:

  • The department must have a Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number . DUNS numbers can be obtained free of charge by phone ( 1-800-333-0505) or by internet (https://www.dnb.com/product/eupdate/requestOptions.html).
  • The department must be party to an existing Cooperative Fire Agreement with FWS or their respective State Forester.
  • The department serves a community with a population of 10,000 or less, as derived from the most recent census bureau statistics. A department serving communities with populations over 10,000 may qualify for RFA funding under the following circumstances:

    1. The service area of the department includes a rural area or community with a population of 10,000 or less. The RFA funding must be used to benefit the rural service area.
    2. Departments operate entirely within the boundaries of the county or town of more than 10,000, that is serviced by two or more fire districts. The service area of a given district includes a rural area or community, or the population of the district's jurisdiction is less than 10,000. The RFA funding is used exclusively for the rural portion of the district.
    3. A fire department with at least one station that serves a community of more than 10,000 that also encompasses a rural zone or community with a population not exceeding 10,000. RFA funding must be used to benefit the rural service area.
    4. A fire department that serves a community of 10,000 or more that also provides fire protection services through contract or agreement to an adjoining rural community. The RFA funding must be used to benefit the rural service area serviced through the contract or agreement.

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5. Can block grants be made to states or large fire districts for distribution to other departments?

Yes, but there are certain additional requirements for this type of grant. Consult with your local RFA contact for additional information.

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6. What information is required in applications?

The following forms are required for application:

  • DOI Rural Fire Assistance Application or regional equivalent form
  • SF-424 (online fillable version) Application for Federal Assistance
  • SF-424A Budget Information - Non-Construction Programs

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7. Can we change the required forms?

No, these standard forms are required by OPM (Circular A-110 ), can not be modified or ignored, and must be kept in program files for audits. However, agencies receiving block grants (states) are not required to use any of the OPM forms when disbursing funds to individual departments.

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8. What type of grants can departments apply for?

Departments can apply for funding of wildland fire related training, equipment, and fire prevention activities up to $20,000 annually. Funds may not be used to purchase "capital assets" (property or improvements which increase the value of real property including dry hydrants, dip sites, building construction/improvement, etc.). RFD's must share at least 10% of total proposed cost with cash or in-kind goods or services, but these may not be funded by any other federal program. Property can not be granted to a RFD.

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9. How are the value of in-kind goods or services calculated?

Valuations should be consistent with local or state procedures - most State forestry agencies have procedures for calculating in-kind services.

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10. Are FWS awards coordinated with awards from other agencies?

Yes. To ensure consistency and equitable allocation of resources from these different programs, FWS works with other federal agencies and state foresters (or similar entity) to ensure funding is allocated to qualified and appropriate rural fire departments. In accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding "Coordination and Cooperation of Fire Department Wildland Fire Assistance Programs" (BLM No. FA-MOU03-0002), the DOI, USDA, the National Association of State Foresters, and FEMA agreed to coordinate and cooperate in the review of competitive applications for Fire Department Assistance Awards. Additionally, these agencies have agreed to share technical support, pertinent program-related information about applicant's pending grant applications, and parameters and scheduling of respective assistance programs. Interagency application review panels include technical representatives from appropriate Interior, Agriculture, state and local agencies.

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11. Can fire departments purchase gear and equipment through the General Services Administration (GSA)?

No, but most state forestry agencies can purchase through GSA, and will purchase personal protective equipment for local fire departments.

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12. Can FWS units donate property (vehicles, computers, PPE, tools, etc.) to RFD's?

No, We have no legal rights for giving the personal property away.

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13. Can FWS units loan property (vehicles, computers, gear, tools, etc.) to RFD's?

Yes, FWS units can loan property to RFD's, however, you must maintain accountability for these asset(s) while they are on loan until they no longer have any value or are unserviceable. A DI-104 Transfer of Property form should be used to document the loan (note: strike-out the word "Transfer" and write in across the top of the form "Loan", all data fields must be completed with contacts, numbers, addresses, etc., and print and signatures must be readable). The DI-104s are auditable documents that must be maintained. The FS FEPP web site explains how FS loans out their personal property using a series of most frequency asked questions (FAQ).

This "loaning" process ensures a couple of things.

  • First it ensures accountability for the property until it has no value left, and
  • secondly it ensures the property is used for its intended purpose for the remainder of its useful life.

The fact that the property is normally never returned as in the FAQ example means that a DI-103A Certificate of Unserviceable Property form is used to remove these asset(s) from your accountable records when it no longer has any value or is unserviceable to the bureau.

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