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Science and the Environment

MDC Awards Funds to Help Fight Wildfires in Missouri

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MO Department of Conservation
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Many rural fire departments across Missouri, including here in the Ozarks, will use money granted to them by the Missouri Department of Conservation for personal protective gear and firefighting equipment.  The grants, totaling $338,490 were awarded to 156 mostly volunteer rural departments as part of MDC’s Volunteer Fire Assistance Matching Grant Program. 

Ben Webster, MDC Forestry Field Programs supervisor, says rural fire departments that apply for the grants can receive up to $4,000 in grant funds from the Conservation Department and U.S. Forest Service to reimburse equipment costs specifically related to wildfire suppression.  The departments must match every dollar they’re granted. Fire departments that qualify serve a population of 10,000 or fewer people.

Several area rural fire departments received a share of the money, including the Monett and Howell County Rural Fire Districts, the Ava Rural Fire Department, the Mansfield Fire Department and the Dadeville, Walnut Grove, Morrisville and Neosho Area Fire Protection Districts.

While fire departments can also apply for equipment to fight structure fires, preference is given to those who need wildfire equipment.

Webster said, “these grants mean increased safety for the firefighters and better protection in forested areas of the state.”

Grant funds are used on everything from radios and other communication equipment to chainsaws, hoses and hand tools, according to MDC. While fire departments can also apply for equipment to fight structure fires, preference is given to those who need wildfire equipment.

MDC has distributed more than $7.5 million over the last 30 years to rural fire departments to help them increase the safety of their firefighters and provide them with better firefighting equipment.