Rural Volunteer Fire Departments are one of Arkansas' greatest assets.
Unfortunately, they are generally under-funded, under-equipped, and are in need
of rural water supply and delivery systems.
In 1990 the Arkansas Association of Resource Conservation and Development
Councils (AARC&D) recognized this water supply and delivery problem as one which
was not being addressed. At this time they applied for and received a
grant to install dry hydrants throughout Arkansas. About 1100 dry hydrants
were installed as a result of this project. After completion of this
project, AARC&D realized, that water supply points alone were not the answer to
rural fire protection needs.
Realizing the benefits of improved rural community fire departments, AARC&D
went to the State Legislature explaining the importance of rural fire protection
and what these improvements could mean to homeowners in the terms of fire safety
and reduced insurance premiums. The Legislature appropriated $2.2
million for the Rural Fire Protection Program (RFPP) pursuant to Act 864 of
1995. The Governor requested and committed the first funds to developing
fire protection plans for each participating fire department. The criteria
stipulated that the participating departments have an Insurance Service Office
(ISO) rating of 7, 8, 9, or 10. The County Judge's Association voted to
support the program.
The purpose of the program is to improve the fire departments ability to
protect life and property by improving overall efficiency, training and
utilization of equipment.
There are three areas of emphasis; County
Master Fire Plans,
Implementation Grants, and Training and
A statewide cost analysis has been prepared to document the long-term funding
needs for Arkansas' rural fire departments. This analysis also shows the
economic benefits realized from improved ISO ratings.
Funding for this program is provided by the State of Arkansas through the
Arkansas Soil and Water Conservation Commission with assistance from local
Conservation districts and USDA-NRCS.