Delaware Department of

Wildland Fire Program

Wildland Fire Program

Delaware Wildfire Program

The Delaware Forest Service works to minimize damage from wildland fire through prevention and suppression activities. We provide staff and equipment at our Blackbird and Redden offices to help firefighters control wildfires. We also loan wildland fire suppression tools (backpack water tanks, hand tools, etc.) to volunteer fire companies to assist their suppression efforts. Our entire staff provides educational (Smokey Bear) programs for school-aged children as well as programs at various public events and fire company open houses. Our Forest Fire Supervisor also works with the Delaware Fire School, fire companies, and the U.S. Forest Service to train Delaware firefighters in wildland fire suppression techniques.

Sam Topper


Delaware Wildfire Crew

Wildland Fire Crew

Are you interested in participating in an adventure of a lifetime? Would you like to help protect human lives, property and precious natural resources during a national crisis? Do you have the mental fortitude, physical stamina and work flexibility to spend at least 16 days away from home? Check out the Wildland Fire Crew page.

The Delaware Forest Service (DFS) maintains a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Forest Service to assist local volunteer fire companies with wildfire suppression and prevention on Delaware’s one million acres of undeveloped land, which includes approximately 380,000 forested acres.

Delaware’s volunteer fire companies can request the assistance of Delaware Forest Service personnel, when needed, for wildland fire suppression. The DFS provides trained personnel, bulldozers equipped with fire plows to establish firebreaks, and wildland fire suppression tools such as fire rakes, hose, and collapsible backpack water tanks. In 2023, the Delaware Forest Service provided wildland fire training to 79 individuals, helped volunteer firefighters control eight wildfires that burned 85 acres, and also were on standby for over 627 outdoor fires.

Felton Fire ATV

Volunteer Fire Assistance

Delaware’s 60 volunteer fire companies are vital to the Delaware Forest Service because they provide much of the manpower and resources to fight wildfires in the state.  The Delaware Forest Service maintains two fire equipment supply caches, one at Blackbird State Forest and one at Redden State Forest. In addition to these supply caches, the Delaware Forest Service has two type 6 engines, three fire plows, and four UTVs with slip-in tanks that are available to help with wildfires.

Indian River VFA grant 2021
From left, Indian River Fire Prevention Co-Chairs Robert Marmor and Roxanne Bammer, Chief Hayden Klingler, and the Delaware Forest Service’s Sam Topper as Indian River VFC receives a ceremonial check for $4500 in VFA grant funding for 2021.

Volunteer Fire Assistance Grants

The Delaware Forest Service’s VFA Grant program is open to all Delaware volunteer fire departments and can provide up to $4,500 in matching grants to acquire pumps, hoses, and equipment to respond to and suppress wildfires. Since its inception, more than $400,000 has been given to enhance wildfire response in the First State.

Priority is given to fire companies that have not received grant funding in the past three years, had members attend the (S130/S190) wildland fire classes and to those with members who participate in the Delaware Forest Service’s annual fire camp. No vehicles (trucks/UTV’s/ATV’s/Trailers), structural firefighting gear (turnout coats, hardhats, gloves, lights, rescue saws, etc.) can be purchased with this funding. Funding is for wildland firefighting ¾” to 1 ½” forestry hose, wildland nomex clothing, wildland hardhats, brush unit pumps/skids, and wildland fire hand tools. Chainsaws can be purchased with funding however they cannot be used/modified into rescue saws.

If you have any questions about the application process or what can be purchased, please feel free to contact Sam Topper at (302) 856-2893 or by email at

In 2023, four volunteer fire companies received $16,158 through the VFA grant program, which helps underwrite the acquisition cost of pumps, hoses, and equipment to respond to and suppress wildfires.

The program is open to accepting grant submissions, please contact Sam Topper.

2023 VFA Grant Awards

Volunteer Fire Company Award
Camden Wyoming Fire Company $1,562
Felton Fire Company $10,000
Laurel Fire Department $1,674
Millville Volunteer Fire Company $2,922
State Fire School – Training Support Services $16,000
TOTAL $32,158


Hazard Mitigation Program

Each year, the Wildland Fire Program offers cost-share assistance grants and technical assistance to communities to reduce the danger of wildland fires. These funds are used to control phragmites in high priority areas through mechanical and chemical treatments. The Delaware Forest Service has had great success in controlling phragmites in the First State through a systematic spraying and mowing cycle over a three- to four-year period. In 2023, five grants totaling $17,042 were awarded with State Fire Assistance funds. This assistance, combined with funding from our partners, has helped treat 5,200 acres statewide.

Prescribed Fire Program

The Delaware Forest Service conducts a successful prescribed burning program. In 2023, we assisted with 11 prescribed fires (Rx) this past year, totaling at least 607.9 acres. These burns took place on federal, state, and private lands throughout Delaware with two new partnerships with U.S. Fish and Wildlife and The Nature Conservancy. Low intensity, prescribed fires provide benefits to the environment in many ways. For example, existing fuel loads are eliminated thus negating the possibility of a subsequent high intensity wildfire, the soil is enriched with nutrients that will help existing trees and the next generation of herbaceous plants, and habitat for a variety of animal species is greatly enhanced. The Delaware Forest Service plans to continue its prescribed burning program in the First State to mitigate fuels and to help native vegetation thrive by partnering with other state agencies.

Wildland Fire Crew

Delaware wildfire crew on a western fire assignment

Are you interested in participating in an adventure of a lifetime? Would you like to help protect human lives, property and precious natural resources during a national crisis? Do you have the mental fortitude, physical stamina and work flexibility to spend 14 days on a fireline far from home?

Every year, millions of acres of forests, marshes, and grasslands across the United States are ravaged by wildfire. But thanks to a training program sponsored by the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, citizens from across the First State can qualify to serve on national fire crews. Since 1996, the Delaware Forest Service has trained more than 600 volunteer firefighters, and now every fire season deploys 20-person crews for out-of-state wildfire assignments.

The program is growing and in need of additional firefighters who are interested in assisting the national effort to control and contain devastating wildfires. Delaware used to send one crew a year, but now can send multiple crews. In 2013, two separate crews fought fires in Alaska, Utah, and Idaho.

Link to Delaware Wildfire Crew page

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