DNR awards grant to Alta Fire Department

Friday, December 28, 2018
Seated from left to right Kirk Bubba Reetz – Fire Chief, Dave Strand – Asst chief, Brandon Brenner – Foreman, Steve VandeWeerd – Training Officer, Jane VandeWeerd EMS Director. Second Row Dan Strand, Austin Reed, Lindsay Brown, Olivia Heschke, Cody Cameron, Tyler Kopfmann, Natalie Meyer, Joey Leonard, Keith Page, Morgan Van Houten, Josh Corbin Back Row Dan Cameron, Rick Meyer, Steven Groat, Mark Glienke, Dylan Ockerman, Travis Kopfmann, Lynn Dirks, Kevin Marshall, John Wilson, Gabe McCormick, Tyler Crum. /Photo Submitted

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources Forestry Section’s Fire Program, in cooperation with US Forest Service, has awarded $234,459 in 50 percent cost-sharing grants to 100 of Iowa’s rural fire departments to aid in their efforts in protecting Iowan’s and their property from wildfires. 

Alta Fire Chief Kirk “Bubba” Reetz said the department will be using their department’s $2,900 grant to buy wild land gear, including fire suppression equipment like drip torches and other necessities like bladder bags.

A drip torch consists of a canister of fuel that ignites and allows fire to be directed as needed. The intentional ignition of fires is a common firefighting tactic ahead of main fires to consume fuel ahead of it, strengthening the control line.

In forest and prairie management, it’s the most common tool for controlled burns to remove excess fuel buildup or re-create natural cycles of fire in an ecosystem.

The grants offer valuable funding assistance for wildfire suppression equipment, personal protective equipment, and communications equipment.

The only other nearby fire department to receive the grant was Cherokee’s for $3,500.

The Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) program is authorized by the 1990 Farm Bill to provide financial, technical, and other assistance through state forestry agencies to organize, equip, and train small, local fire departments in rural communities with populations under 10,000 to prevent and suppress rural fires. Work contributes to healthy forests, forest stewardship, and sustainable economic development. VFA dollars may be used to fund multi-community/fire department projects such as mutual-aid communications networks.

The DNR reminds all fire departments of the importance of submitting Wildland Fire Reports whenever they respond to a wildland fire or provide assistance to a prescribed or controlled wildland fire. Departments actively returning these reports receive priority points when the VFA grant applications are scored.  These wildland fire reports are compiled locally and nationally and are reported to Congress.