Five Berkshire volunteer fire departments will share nearly $7,100 in state funding to better prepare them for fighting wildfires and forest fires.

Adams, Becket, Otis, Windsor and Williamstown each recently received grants ranging from $1,060 to $2,000 from the Volunteer Fire Association Program through the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.

The VFA program, funded through the U.S. Forest Service, helps towns buy their volunteer firefighters equipment and supplies such as flame retardant and personal protection equipment.

Each department will match the amount received with their own funds, according to Otis Fire Chief Sandy Pinkham. His department is looking to buy backpack water tanks, fire hose and a floating portable pump that can draw water from atop a lake.

"We have island fires as we have a lot of islands in the middle of Oits Reservoir, so the pump would come in handy," Pinkham said.

DCR recently awarded a total of $52,000 in VFA money to 40 communities most likely to battle wildfires and forest fires, often working with federal and state fire agencies.

The highly competetive VFA grants are available to all volunteer fire departments, composed of at least 80 percent call or volunteer firefighters, that serve a community of up to 10,000 residents Eligible proposed projects are those related to firefighter safety, technology transfer and rural fire defense

"Community fire departments serve as the front line and first responders in combating wildfires and forest fires across the commonwealth," said DCR Commissioner John P.


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Murray in a prepared statement. "These VFA grants help local departments get the equipment they need, to ensure the continued safety of our communities."

Windsor Fire Chief Scott Eastwood praised the importance of the grant program to his department over the years.

"A lot of supplies on our brush truck have been funded with these grants," he said. "We wouldn’t be where we are today without them."

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233