Cato and Hilltop Volunteer Fire Departments are two local agencies that recently received wildfire suppression kits from the Rural Fire Program.

The program, managed by the Arkansas Agriculture Department’s Forestry Commission (AFC), received $200,000 from the U.S. Forest Service to purchase the kits.

In total, 67 Wildfire Suppression Kits — contains equipment and gear necessary for the safe suppression of wildfires — will be distributed statewide to volunteer fire departments through October.

“Volunteer fire departments are the primary partner to AFC crews in wildfire response and suppression but often need the specialized equipment and gear necessary for safe wildfire suppression,” a news release from the Arkansas Agriculture Department states.

More than 230 volunteer fire departments have received the kits through the program since 2014, the release reads.

Included in each kit is a lightweight wildfire-resistant personal protective equipment, hand rakes, backpack water pumps and leaf blowers.

For those volunteer departments interested in participating in the program, the application — which are scored according to specific criteria that includes fire district population, response area size, wildfire equipment response needs and other factors — period starts in September.

To obtain an application, contact Kathryn Mahan-Hooten at or 501-679-3183.

“The AAD is dedicated to the development and implementation of policies and programs for Arkansas agriculture and forestry to keep its farmers and ranchers competitive in national and international markets while ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of the state and nation,” the release reads.