Volunteer Fire Assistance Program (VFA)

Overview

The VFA Program was formerly known as the Rural Community Fire Protection (RCFP). 

WHEN WAS THE PROGRAM ESTABLISHED?
The VFA Program (RCFP) was enacted by Congress in 1972 and was part of the Rural Development Act of 1972, Title IV (Public Law 92-419). In 1978 the RCFP Program was re-established in the Cooperative Assistance Act (Public Law 95-313).


WHY WAS THE PROGRAM ESTABLISHED?
The VFA program was established to assist rural fire departments in the areas of training, organizing and equipping. It was felt that many rural fire departments could use monetary assistance in these areas.


WHO ADMINISTERS THE PROGRAM?
The New Mexico Forestry Division of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department administers the VFA program in New Mexico. Ultimate responsibility for the program resides with the U. S. Forest Service.


WHO QUALIFIES?
Any fire department in the state which serves a community of less than 10,000 people qualifies for application to this program.

HOW MUCH MONEY IS AVAILABLE?
A maximum of $25,000 per qualifying fire department per year is available.

WHAT TYPE OF PURCHASES QUALIFY?
In New Mexico, we stress the purchase of wildfire equipment. For example; nomex clothing, multi-channel radios, fire tools, pumps, fire foam, etc.

WHAT IS THE ACTUAL PROCESS FROM APPLICATION TO FINAL PAYMENT?
Applications are received and rated according to the answers on the application. The rating panel consists of representatives from: 1) N.M. Forestry Division, 2) U.S. Forest Service, and 3) State Fire Marshal's Office. The fire departments with approved applications are notified of how much they can expect to receive and what items they may purchase under the program. When the invoice and proof of payment are received in our Santa Fe Office, an application is made to the State Treasury for that money, and a check is issued to the fire department in care of their fiscal agent. This usually takes from four to six weeks.

WHAT DOES 90/10 COST SHARE MEAN?
The program itself consists of a 90/10 cost share. This means that the fire department will pay for 10% of the item and the VFA program will pay up to 90%. EXAMPLE: Your fire department purchases a pump for $1,000.00. The fire department will pay the initial $1,000.00 to the supplier and then submit their invoices and vouchers to our Santa Fe Office. The VFA program will then reimburse the fire department 90% of the cost of the pump, or $900.00.

WHO OWNS THE ITEMS PURCHASED UNDER THE RCFP PROGRAM?
Capital outlay items - those costing over $1,000.00 and having a distinct identity (water pump, foam proportioner) become 90% owned by the Federal Government. Before these items can be sold or disposed of, permission must be obtained through the State Forester. All other items (field supplies) become the fire department's property (through their fiscal agent). Audits will be performed from time to time to see if the equipment purchased under the program is still functional.

HOW TO APPLY?
Contact the New Mexico Forestry Division at 1220 S. St. Francis Drive, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505; or call 505-476-3325 or one of the District Offices.

 

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