A firefighter battles a blaze in Manorville off Wading River...

A firefighter battles a blaze in Manorville off Wading River Road as a large brush fire spread across eastern Long Island. (April 9, 2012) Credit: Chris Ware

Rural fire departments have until May 15 to apply for volunteer assistance grants though the state Department of Environmental Conservation to help cover costs of fire suppression gear.

Funded by the U.S. Forest Service, the grant program provides matching funds of up to $1,000 to fire departments seeking to enhance wildfire fighting capabilities.

The grant will cover the cost of portable pumps, hand tools, hoses, fireproof clothing, hard hats, radios, generators, dry hydrants and other fire suppression items.

Last year the program granted more than $400,000 to 475 fire departments. The 2012 allocation is expected to be $350,000, the DEC said in a news release.

Eligible fire departments serve a single town with a population of less than 10,000 people or serve multiple areas where at least one is a rural town of less than 10,000 residents. Fire companies serving more than 10,000 people might be eligible under certain criteria.

For applications or questions call 518-402-8835, go online to www.dec.ny.gov and search for Volunteer Fire Assistance Grants, or write to NYSDEC, Division of Forest Protection, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-2560.

Above: A firefighter battles a blaze in Manorville off Wading River Road as a large brush fire spread across eastern Long Island. (April 9, 2012)