OKLAHOMA CITY-Community and rural fire departments in Oklahoma are eligible to apply for matching grants through the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry’s rural fire defense program to upgrade local fire protection services.

“This competitive grant program is a tremendous asset to our communities and volunteer fire departments throughout the state,” said Secretary of Agriculture Terry Peach. “The funding provided by the program helps to increase fire protection and lower fire insurance ratings for homeowners and businesses.”

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State funds may be used to build new or improve existing fire stations, or to purchase firefighting equipment. The community must match grant dollars with at least 20 percent in local funds.

Rural fire defense is a significant program for ODAFF’s Forestry Services division, Peach said. The 80/20 grants are available to more than 900 rural and community fire departments in Oklahoma.

The department expects to award up to $800,000 in state-appropriated grant funding during fiscal year 2009. Application forms were sent to all cooperating fire departments July 1, and may be obtained from rural fire coordinators or the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.

Applications are also available on-line at www.forestry.ok.gov . Completed applications must be submitted to the fire department’s Rural Fire Coordinator by July 31, 2008. For additional information or questions, call 405-288-2385.

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