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The Rural Fire Program, managed by the Arkansas Agriculture Department's Forestry Commission, received $237,000 from the U.S. Forest Service to purchase and distribute 79 wildfire suppression kits to statewide volunteer fire departments in 2019.

The kits feature equipment and gear necessary for the safe suppression of wildfires including lightweight wildfire-resistant personal protective equipment, hand rakes, backpack water pumps and leaf blowers.

Volunteer fire departments are the primary partner to Arkansas Forestry Commission crews in wildfire response and suppression but often need specialized equipment.

Several area volunteer fire departments received kits, including Bradley in Lafayette County, Center Point in Howard County, Cross Roads in Hempstead County, Dierks in Howard County and Mandeville in Miller County.

Since 2014, more than 300 volunteer fire departments have received the wildfire suppression kits through the Rural Fire Program.

The application period for the 2020 Wildfire Protection Kit Program starts in September. Applications are scored on specific criteria including fire district population, size of the response area, wildfire equipment response needs and other factors.

Contact Kathryn Mahan-Hooten at [email protected] or at 501-679-3183 for more information or to be added to the Rural Fire Program email distribution list.

—From the Arkansas Agriculture Department

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