Texas A&M Forest Service opens emergency grant applications for wildfire disaster declaration

Texas Forest Service

August 29, 2023

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Emergency grant applications are now open for volunteer fire departments included in Governor Abbott’s wildfire disaster declaration.

      “Volunteer firefighters are our first line of defense against wildfires in Texas,” said Wes Moorehead, Texas A&M Forest Service Fire Chief. “During this active summer season, these firefighters are responding to wildfires daily. They work in extreme conditions that not only challenge them physically but also cause their equipment to become worn and damaged.”

      The disaster declaration is in response to wildfires that began on July 24, 2023, which “pose an imminent threat of widespread or severe damage, injury or loss of life or property” in the 191 counties. 

      In addition to preventing and responding to wildfires, Texas A&M Forest Service is here to help firefighters by administering emergency grants through the Rural Volunteer Fire Department Assistance Program.

      The emergency grants fund essential equipment that needs repairing and replacement damaged during response efforts. Essential equipment can be repaired or replaced for 100 percent of the cost up to $15,000. 

      Apparatus replacement, or replacement of water tenders, large and small brush trucks or large and small truck chassis can be replaced for 90 percent of the cost up to various amounts, the maximum being $240,000. 

      “Having the proper equipment to respond to wildfires is essential,” said Moorehead. “Emergency grants for repair and replacement equipment are expedited to provide assistance as quickly as possible.” 

      The budget allocated for declared disaster emergency grants is 10 percent of the Rural VFD Assistance Program budget, nearly $1.7 million this fiscal year. 

      A high volume of wildfires is expected to continue through next Sunday for the eastern two-thirds of Texas due to underlying drought, critically dry fuel and periods of elevated to near critical fire weather. 

      Texans should stay wildfire aware and immediately call 911 if a wildfire is spotted. 

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