LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is offering an opportunity to rural fire departments to help them better prepare for taking on wildfires.

The agency is now taking applications for wildland fire suppression kits through Oct. 20. Department officials said the kits include lightweight wildfire-resistant coveralls, wildland gloves, rakes, backpack water pumps and leaf blowers.

Officials said the Arkansas Forestry Division received a grant from the U.S. Forest Service of more than $293,000 to give 85 kits to rural volunteer fire departments across Arkansas this year.

“Volunteer fire departments are the primary partner to Forestry Division crews in wildfire response and suppression, but they are often in need of specialized equipment and gear necessary for safe wildfire suppression,” officials said.

Officials said applications are scored based on multiple criteria, including population of the fire district, number of square miles covered, average number of wildfires a department responds to and other factors.

Department of Agriculture officials said fire departments that are selected to receive a kit will be notified in November and kits will be delivered in spring of 2024.

Applications can be submitted online or by paper upon request.