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Rural Fire Department Resources for Local Officials

Fireman holding a firehose shooting water. (NRCS|USDA)

Information and Funding Resources Available for Rural Fire Departments

There is a wide range of information available regarding all aspects of fire department operation including funding sources for operations, facilities, firefighter equipment, fire trucks and training, and first responder emergencies. This Online guide includes general rural fire information, training programs, statistical information and publications on fire-related issues. This online guide was originally developed by the Rural Information Center in 2006. This was updated and last modified: October, 2021.

The use of trade, firm, or corporation names in this publication (or page) is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by the United States Department of Agriculture or the Agricultural Research Service of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable.  

Planning Resources

Funding and Program Assistance

There are different forms of funding programs available to rural fire departments including grants, loans, donations, and reimbursements. Consult grant writing resources for assistance in preparing successful proposals and in obtaining funding applications and information for obtaining a DUNS number that is required of all organizations/entities applying for a federal grant or cooperation agreement.

Guides to Federal Programs

U.S. Department of Agriculture

U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency

U.S. Department of Interior

  • Forests and Rangelands
    An interagency program with the USDA, Forest Service, U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Association of State Foresters for wildland fire issues. Includes National Fire Plan projects.
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs-Branch of Wildland Fire Management "protecting lives, property, and resources while restoring and maintaining healthy ecosystems through cost-effective and creative fire-management programs, collaboration, and promoting Indian self-determination." Contact: 208-387-5575

U.S. Department of Justice

U.S. Department of Transportation

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

  • Local Governments Reimbursement Program This program provides Federal funds to local governments for costs related to temporary emergency measures conducted in response to releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances.

U.S. General Service Administration

U.S. Housing and Urban Development

Private Funding Programs

  • Gary Sinise Foundation - First Responders provide help to critical funding for emergency relief, training, and essential equipment to ensure these heroes perform to the best of their abilities.
  • National First Responders Fund is a financial resource organization dedicated to First Responder programs and training to address awareness and recovery from work-related Post Traumatic Stress Injuries (PTSI).
  • Robert Irvine Foundation provides funding in the form of grants to support military and first responder organizations, individual relief, and other critical projects to support the community we serve.
  • Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation provides funding for first responder livesaving equipment, education, disaster relief, etc.

Training Resources

Staff training is an important part of all fire department programs. There are many sources of information and training available to the rural fire department, including libraries, networks, courses, and more. Below are links to get started in or enhance a training program.

Financial Assistance

  • National Fire Academy (NFA) Training Assistance "There are no tuition fees for NFA courses. All instruction and course materials are provided at no cost. Most of the transportation costs and lodging for students who represent career or volunteer fire departments, rescue squads, or State/local governments attending on-campus courses are currently provided as part of funding under the student stipend reimbursement program. Students from other countries, other Federal agencies, private industry, or contractors of State/local fire departments or government entities must pay their own transportation and lodging fees."
  • Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant programs "Federal Emergency Management Agency's Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant programs provide funding for eligible mitigation activities that reduce disaster losses and protect life and property from future disaster damages. Currently, FEMA administers the following HMA grant programs": Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP); Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM); and Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA)
  • Preparedness (Non-Disaster) Grants Federal Emergency Management Agency "provides state and local governments with preparedness program funding in the form of Non-Disaster Grants to enhance the capacity of state and local emergency responders to prevent, respond to, and recover from a weapons of mass destruction terrorism incident involving chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive devices and cyber attacks."
  • Fire Engineering / Firefighters Support Foundation – "free training programs that address basic and advanced fire service topics. Targeted at both agency trainers and individuals, most programs include a video and PowerPoint presentation."
  • The Fire Academy Learn the latest tactics, techniques and technologies designed to take your knowledge to the next level.

Information Resources

  • Coffee Break Training U.S. Fire Administration. "Fire and emergency medical services personnel with busy daily schedules often don't have time to attend valuable skill-enhancing training sessions, so the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) is providing Coffee Break Training bulletins for you to read and enjoy during your daily break. These one-page training notices provide technical training and administrative tips. Each notice includes a photograph or drawing that illustrates the point of the training lesson."
  • Critical Infrastructure Protection, Emergency Management and Response - Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EMR-ISAC) "U.S. Fire Administration's Emergency Management and Response - Information Sharing and Analysis Center provides the Emergency Services Sector with threat, vulnerability and critical infrastructure protection information through Department of Homeland Security information sharing mechanisms, and provides no-cost technical assistance critical infrastructure protection consultation services to Emergency Services Sector leaders."
  • National Emergency Training Center Library "...provides information and resources on fire, emergency management and other all-hazards subjects. With our collection of more than 208,000 books, reports, audiovisual materials and indexed articles, the Library supports National Emergency Training Center student and faculty research, classroom lectures, and development of course materials. We invite you to access our Online Public Access Catalog to perform literature searches of our collections."
  • "Training Resources and Data Exchange (TRADE) program "...is a regionally based network designed to foster the exchange of fire-related training information and resources among Federal, State, and local levels of government."
  • Wildland Fire Training USDA Forest Service offers a wide range of courses are available year-round all across the country for professional wildland fire professionals to update their knowledge and skills. Many of these courses are interagency in nature, others are specific to the needs of the Forest Service.
  • FireFit Program National Center for Public Safety FItness provides health and fitness information and training for public safety personnel, to include: Police Officers, Sheriff’s Deputies, Corrections Officers, Firefighters, and Emergency Medical Technicians.

Statistics and Data Resources

Additional Resources

Publications