NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) announced earlier this week that the application period for a program that offers $2 million in grants is now open to rescue squads across the state.

In 2022, Gov. Bill Lee and the General Assembly approved the funding of the Rescue Squad Grant Program, which awards money so rescue squads can purchase lifesaving equipment that will protect squad members while responding to incidents, according to the TDCI.

“This program will help provide resources to Tennessee’s rescue squads while fulfilling Governor Lee’s vision of strengthening Tennessee’s rural communities,” State Fire Marshal and TDCI Commissioner Carter Lawrence said.

Officials reported there are more than 90 rescue squads across Tennessee that offer various specialized services, such as extrication, structural collapse response, and swift water rescue.

“The men and women who serve Tennessee communities in rescue squads embody the Volunteer State’s spirit at its finest,” said Gary Farley, the TDCI assistant commissioner of fire prevention. “It is a priority of our team to provide them with a way to acquire reliable and effective equipment to serve their communities in much the same way that the Volunteer Firefighter Equipment and Training Grant Program assists Tennessee’s volunteer fire departments.”

In order to be eligible for the grant program, the TDCI said rescue squads need to have an active registration with the Secretary of State, as well as be recognized by a local government to provide rescue squad services.

“This is the first time that this grant program has been launched, and the rescues squads, which are typically dedicated to, as their name says, to making rescues — swift water rescue; natural disaster rescue; rescue, say, in a grain elevator or somewhere like that,” explained Kevin Walters, the communications director for the State Fire Marshal’s Office. “That’s what they’re dedicated to doing, and this grant, the money in this grant, can be used by the rescue squads to buy new equipment and to help keep the people who participate in rescue squads safe as they go out to help make Tennessee safer.”

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Officials said applications will be accepted from now until Feb. 10. Then, the applications received during that submission period will be scored internally and submitted to a committee — featuring Farley, along with six members of the Tennessee Rescue Squad Association — who will oversee the award selection.

If you are an applicant with questions about the grant, you are asked to contact Michelle Price, the director of education and outreach, by emailing SFMO.grants@tn.gov or calling 629-259-1713.