BOSTON - The Patrick-Murray Administration, through the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), is awarding Volunteer Fire Assistance grants to 54 towns across the Commonwealth. Funding for the 2010 Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) grant program is provided by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service and is administered by DCR’s Bureau of Forest Fire Control.
"We are pleased to be able to work in partnership with these communities to increase their fire readiness and protection of both their firefighters and residents," said DCR Commissioner Richard K. Sullivan Jr. "Making the VFA grants available once again to these rural fire departments goes a long way toward protecting the communities and the Commonwealth’s forest resources."
DCR awarded funding for wildfire-related projects to the towns of Alford, Blackstone, Bolton, Boxford, Boylston, Brimfield, Brookfield, Chester, Chilmark, Conway, Cummington, Deerfield, Dover, Dunstable, Edgartown, Erving, Essex, Freetown, Georgetown, Goshen, Great Barrington, Hardwick, Hatfield, Hawley, Hubbardston, Lanesborough, Leverett, Monson, Monterey, New Salem, Otis, Phillipston, Plympton, Rochester, Russell, Sheffield, Shelburne Falls, South Hadley, Sterling, Stow, Sturbridge, Sunderland, Templeton, Townsend, Turners Falls, Wales, Warwick, Wenham, West Barnstable, West Brookfield, Westhampton, Westminster, Windsor,Worthington.
The grants, which can be as high as $2,000 for a given community, are matched two-to-one by each community.
The VFA program reimburses non-profit call or volunteer fire departments that provide service primarily to a community with a population of 10,000 or less. Firefighters on call are paid when they are summoned to fight a fire; volunteers are not paid. To qualify for the VFA grants, fire departments must be made up of at least 80 percent call or volunteer firefighters and be recognized as a department under state law.
"The Volunteer Fire Assistance grant program is essential for forest protection and community safety throughout the rural towns of the Commonwealth," said State Senator Stephen M. Brewer. "I applaud the United States Department of Agriculture, DCR’s Bureau of Forest Fire Control, and especially the communities for working together on these grants to bring much-needed resources to these volunteer departments."
"Volunteer firefighters play a crucial role in protecting public safety, and I am pleased to see this much-deserved funding awarded to our local communities," said State Senator Harriette Chandler.
"I want to thank the Patrick Administration for understanding the critical role that volunteer firefighters play in communities across western Massachusetts," said State Senator Benjamin B. Downing. "These funds will ensure the efforts of men and women across rural towns and small communities are supported with the proper equipment and training."
"I applaud Governor Patrick for releasing these grants and for awarding them to such deserving towns," said State Senator Robert O’Leary. "Providing matching funds to secure these grants shows a firm commitment to public safety and, especially for towns on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard, shows that protecting our residents and our landscape is a high priority."
"Every day, the town of Blackstone relies on the people who volunteer to ensure their public safety," said State Representative Jennifer Callahan. "In these difficult economic times, this grant will be extremely beneficial in supporting Blackstone's fire prevention and suppression activites."
"This is great news for public safety in these towns," State Senator Stan Rosenberg said. "Three cheers for the volunteers for their dedication to their community."
"The Volunteer Fire Assistance grant program is an important opportunity for fire departments to receive funding for important forest fire control issues," said State Senator Jennifer L. Flanagan. "I am pleased that the US Department of Agriculture recognized a need across communities in my district."
"This is great news, and I am very happy to see that Monson is able benefit from this grant." said State Representative Brian Ashe. "Even though these men and women volunteer their time and energy day in and day out, there is a cost for the community. The town of Monson relies on their volunteer Fire Department and this grant will help defray the cost and save the taxpayers money."
"This funding is critical in assisting our call firefighters and the community in forest fire control, especially this autumn after such a dry summer," said State Representative Anne Gobi.
"My towns of Bolton and Stow will use the Volunteer Fire Assistance grants to enhance their capabilities to fight fires," said State Representative Kate Hogan. "We are grateful to the USDA Forest Service and the DCR Bureau of Forest Fire Control for this generous investment in our local fire departments."
"The Volunteer Assistance grants will go a long way toward assisting Boxford and Georgetown in providing fire protection efforts for their citizens," said State Representative Barbara L’Italien.
"I am so pleased that communities in my district are able to utilize the VFA grants," said Representative Harold P. Naughton Jr. "These grants will go far in ensuring the safety of residents in both Sterling and Boylston. Public safety is an issue I am committed to for all the communities in my district, and it is especially important to take every precaution to protect both citizens and firefighters from the hazards of wildfires. I look forward to working with both Sterling and Boylston to increase their fire readiness and protections."
"Because so many of the small towns in the Berkshires rely heavily on volunteers to staff their fire departments, these grants are absolutely vital to the well being and safety of the towns," said State Representative Smitty Pignatelli. "I appreciate that DCR recognizes this and works to provide these rural departments with the appropriate funding to combat forest fires."
"Presenting these grants to the fire departments in the rural towns of the state ensures that our forestry remains a protected natural resource," said State Representative Bill Straus. "It is important that our state supports our volunteer fire departments that are called upon at all hours of the day and night."
The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), an agency of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, oversees 450,000 acres of parks and forests, beaches, bike trails, watersheds, dams, and parkways. Led by Commissioner Richard K. Sullivan Jr., the agency’s mission is to protect, promote, and enhance our common wealth of natural, cultural, and recreational resources. To learn more about DCR, our facilities, and our programs, please visit www.mass.gov/dcr. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.