Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA)


Grant applications for the VFA program will be accepted from January 1, 2024, to February 15, 2024. The online application will be available on January 1st.
For 2024, the grant maximum is $7,000 (VFD pays up to $14,000 out of pocket and is reimbursed up to $7,000).
The VFA program, formerly known as the Rural Community Fire Protection (RCFP) program, allows South Dakota Wildland Fire (SDWF) to provide volunteer fire departments (VFDs) funding through the U.S. Forest Service. This funding is used to organize, and equip fire departments in rural areas to prevent and suppress fires.
All applications must be submitted by February 15, 2024. No late submissions will be accepted. Grants will be awarded by March 1st



A rural community is defined as having 10,000 or less population. The 10,000-person population limit ensures VFA funding assists fire departments with the most need.
Following are examples of eligibility requirements for use of VFA funding:
  • A single fire department serving a rural area or a rural community with a population of 10,000 of less is eligible (from the latest Census).
  • Area fire departments (fire districts, townships, etc.) may serve an aggregate population of greater than 10,000 if the service area of the fire department includes a rural area or a rural community having a population of 10,000 or less. The VFA funding must be used to benefit the rural population.
  • A single county or town with a population over 10,000 that is served by two or more fire districts operating entirely within the bounds of the county or town may qualify if the service area of a given fire department includes a rural area or a rural community or the population of the fire department's jurisdiction is 10,000 or less. The VFA funding must be used for the rural area.
  • A single community with a population greater than 10,000 and having a single fire department with one or more fire stations may qualify. The fire department must have a service area that includes a rural area or community that does not exceed 10,000 population. The VFA funding must be used only for the benefit of the rural population. Similarly, a single community with a population greater than 10,000 that also provides fire protection to an adjoining rural community of 10,000 or less population by contract, may also be eligible provided the VFA funding is used entirely to support the rural community.
  • A single community fire department serving a population greater than 10,000 and not providing protection to a rural area or to a rural community is not eligible for VFA financial assistance.

Administrative Considerations

Political structure influences how states administer the VFA Program. State subdivisions may include counties, parishes, cities, towns, townships, boroughs, villages, districts, and other political subdivisions.
  • While paid fire departments are not excluded from participation in the VFA Program, targeting of grants to qualifying fire departments having a membership comprised of at least 80%  volunteer firefighters is encouraged.
  • All qualifying communities and fire departments must comply with any specific criteria established by State officials and consistent with requirements established by the Forest Service. As an example, a State Forester could require each eligible rural community to have a signed cooperative fire protection agreement with the State Forester's office.
  • Preference will be given to applications with wildland only related request over those with structure/wildland or structure only related request.
  • The community share (match) of the financial assistance must be available at the time of application. Applicants may not derive their share from other sources of Federal assistance.

Uses of VFA Funding

States are encouraged to use their funding to assist those departments with the greatest need and to fund projects creating the most benefit.
  • VFA dollars may be used to fund multi-community/fire department projects such as a mutual-aid communications network. Projects to develop static water supplies such as dry hydrants and cisterns also provide great benefits and may enable some communities to lower their fire insurance rates.
  • VFA funding may be used to convert FEPP vehicles to water tenders, engines, brush trucks and equipment trucks. Fire prevention activities should be conducted by fire departments to inform communities of ways to safeguard their properties and to prevent ignitions as reference in the CFFA.

  • VFA funding is not authorized for the purchase, construction, or renovation of capital improvements such as fire stations or pressurized water systems. Loans are available through other Federal sources for these purposes.
  • The VFA Program is monitored to assure that funding is legally spent in ways that improve the protection of rural communities.

Unique Entity Identifier

Begining January 2023 all VFA Grant Applications must include a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) per federal requirements. If your department does not currently have a UEI it may take up to 12 days to obtain one. Please do not delay in obtaining a UEI as this may cause you to miss the grant application deadline. Visit to obtain your UEI.



For more information, please contact Casey Glines at 605.394.2583.

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