The local Barton-Lexa Volunteer Fire Department is a recipient of a $1,000 matching Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) Grant from the Rural Fire Protection Program of the Arkansas Forestry Commission (AFC). Money to fund this program is administered by the AFC and provided by the U.S. Forest Service. Grant dollars are used to assist fire departments in wild-land firefighting capabilities.

The local Barton-Lexa Volunteer Fire Department is a recipient of a $1,000 matching Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) Grant from the Rural Fire Protection Program of the Arkansas Forestry Commission (AFC). Money to fund this program is administered by the AFC and provided by the U.S. Forest Service. Grant dollars are used to assist fire departments in wild-land firefighting capabilities. Over 1,000 Arkansas acres burned over the recent holiday weekend due to high wind and low humidity – without volunteer firefighters, the AFC would see many more acres and homes lost to Arkansas wildfires each year. The state remains under wildfire danger through this coming weekend with 21 current burn bans. In 2013, the AFC awarded 100 VFA grants, like this to Barton-Lexa, to departments mostly volunteer in nature with community populations of 10,000 people or less. Grant recipients are chosen based on need and merit of proposed projects. Because these are matching grants, the department must purchase wild-land firefighting equipment and/or gear in the amount of $2,000. 

 “These grants are oriented to help Arkansas firefighters better equip themselves and therefore better protect their communities. Through our wild-land fire training course and quality gear and equipment, we can help firefighters safely and effectively prevent and suppress wildfire,” said John Blackburn, Rural Fire Protection Administrator. Volunteer fire departments are partner agencies in preventing and suppressing wild-land fires with AFC crews throughout Arkansas. Since the inception of its Rural Fire Program in 1979, the AFC has made the equipping of rural fire departments a top priority. Federal funds for 2014 grants are projected to be available by early summer. Fire departments should contact their district AFC offices for information about applying for these funds. Visit www.forestry.arkansas.gov for a list of all county and district AFC contacts. The mission of the Arkansas Forestry Commission is to protect Arkansas's forests, and those who enjoy them, from wild-land fire and natural hazards while promoting rural and urban forest health, stewardship, development, and conservation for all generations of Arkansans. Visit www.forestry.arkansas.gov. To report a wildfire, call the AFC Dispatch Center at 1-800-468-8834. To report an emergency, dial 911.