State grant program will provide $1M to purchase equipment for Tennessee volunteer fire departments

To help support the lifesaving mission of the over 500 volunteer fire departments in Tennessee the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (TDCI) and the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) announce that applications will be accepted starting Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022, from volunteer fire departments for $1 million in grants through the Volunteer Firefighter Equipment and Training Grant Program.

Created by legislation approved by Governor Bill Lee and the General Assembly in 2019, the program earmarks monies for the purchase of firefighting equipment by Tennessee volunteer fire departments or to help volunteer departments meet local match requirements for federal grants for purchasing equipment. Grant proceeds may be used to purchase equipment used by firefighters to extinguish fires and protect the lives of firefighters (other than fire trucks or vehicles) or the grants may be used to help fire departments pay or reimburse the cost share for federal grants that have already been awarded.

The program’s initial launch in 2020 provided $500,000 in grants to 41 volunteer fire departments. For 2022, the program’s funding was increased to $1 million.

“We are grateful for the leadership of Governor Bill Lee and the General Assembly who increased the amount of funding to $1 million in order to help provide more support to Tennessee volunteer departments and their communities,” said Tennessee State Fire Marshal and TDCI Commissioner Carter Lawrence. “This program supports Governor Lee’s vision of strengthening Tennessee’s rural communities by providing more resources for our volunteer fire departments so that can help save lives and protect property.”

The grant program strengthens the SFMO’s ongoing commitment to saving lives, protecting property, and reducing fire fatalities across Tennessee.

Said TDCI Assistant Commissioner of Fire Prevention Gary Farley: “The majority of Tennessee’s firefighters are volunteers who willingly put their lives on the line for their communities for little or no compensation or recognition. It is incumbent on our team to provide those brave men and women with a way to acquire  reliable and effective firefighting equipment.”

Members of the Tennessee General Assembly were crucial in creating the program and increasing its funding from $500,000 to $1 million in 2022.

“Our firefighters are on the front lines and provide critical services to keep our communities safe,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Mike Bell (R-Riceville). “These grants will help ensure they have the life-saving tools they need to do this heroic job safely and effectively. I look forward to continuing to see how these greatly needed funds will benefit our communities.”

Eligible fire departments must hold a valid recognition from the SFMO and have a staff comprised by less than 51% full-time career firefighters.

Applications received during the submission period will be scored internally and submitted to a seven-member committee who will oversee the award selection. The committee is composed of three representatives from the Tennessee Fire Chiefs Association, three representatives from the Tennessee Firemen’s Association, and TDCI’s Assistant Commissioner of Fire Prevention. Per statute, the funds will be awarded equally among Tennessee’s Grand Divisions.

Applications will be accepted until 2:00 p.m. CT on Monday, Feb. 28, 2022. To help applicants complete the applications, an informational video has been created to help guide applicants through the grant application process. 

Applicants with questions about the grant should contact Director of Education and Outreach Greg Adams at Greg.Adams@TN.gov or call (615) 532-5844.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:30 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, and cats Oliver, Bow and Libby.

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