The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) today announced 31 Illinois communities will benefit from more than $225,000 in federal grants to rural fire departments and fire protection districts.

The USDA Forest Service Volunteer Fire Assistance federal grant program provides matching funds to aid fire departments in the purchase of new equipment and helps fund training.

"This program is invaluable to rural and small-town fire departments which have limited funding," said IDNR Director Colleen Callahan. "Helping these fire departments upgrade their equipment not only makes firefighters' jobs easier and safer, it plays a significant role in protecting residents of rural communities."

The Volunteer Fire Assistance grant program reimburses 50 percent of the recipients' costs for providing training and acquiring equipment to assist local firefighters. Grant recipients must make the initial financial outlay for the projects before being reimbursed. The grants announced today are supporting more than $474,000 in equipment for local firefighters.

The USDA Forest Service grant program is administered in Illinois by the IDNR. No state funds are involved.

Locally, the Vienna Fire Protection District was awarded $6,520 for air cylinders and turnout gear - coats and pants.

The total of grant awards was $225,126.

Information on grant opportunities can be found on the IDNR website and on the Illinois Catalog of State Financial Assistance at /

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