Questions & Answers
These questions and answers will be periodically updated, as we get more questions that we
may not have anticipated. We want all questions and answers to be available to everyone.
Please read through all the questions and answers before submitting your grant application or
contacting us with a question. Thank you! Last update: Dec. 5, 2022
Q. Items over $5,000. If I want to buy a splitter or any other items that costs $7,000, can I use $5,000 from your grant and match it with $2,000 that we raised ourselves?
A. No. Unfortunately, due to Forest Service regulations, groups cannot cover additional amounts over $5,000 to buy items that cost more than $5,000.
Q. $5,000 cap. Why do you have a $5,000 cap on purchases?
A. This is a federal government restriction, not one from us. The issue is that once you pay more than $5,000, the federal government retains an interest in the property and it has to be tracked year-to-year by the bank and by the Alliance for Green Heat. This almost always becomes a major bureaucratic, time-consuming headache for all involved.
Q. Minimum grant. If we have a small wood bank, can we apply for only $1,000?
Q. Multi-bank applications. Can one wood bank apply and share the funding with several other smaller ones?
A. At this time no.
Q. Using another bank account. Can we use the bank account of another local group in our town?
A. Yes, its possible for a group to arrange with another local group to use their bank account. There must be an agreement in writing. The firewood bank needs to get its own UEI and complete the application itself. Please contact us for more details.
Q. When do we get the funds? Will we get all the funds right away?
A. There will usually be a 2-4 week delay once the application is complete and the contract signed before funding is available. You can choose to purchase items first, and get reimbursed, or get the funding before purchasing items. If you get funding first, you need to spend at least 80% of it within two weeks and send a short finance report to confirm those purchases.
Q. Paying for commercial firewood deliveries. Can we use the funds to pay for commercial deliveries of firewood to a needy home? Or, can we just give vouchers to families that they can use to buy wood?
A. These funds are primarily to strengthen the capacity of firewood banks that use mostly free or cheap wood, and have volunteers to process or deliver it. At this time, we are not providing grants to social service agencies that only purchase cords of seasoned firewood at commercial rates. Please contact us for more details if your situation is unique.
Q. Chimney sweeping: Can we use funds to pay for a chimney sweep or a stove repair if a home really needs it?
A. No. These grants are for supporting firewood banks and not for covering expenses in all the homes that you make deliveries to. However, if a wood bank can address some of these needs in homes, we encourage wood banks to use their own funds or get donations of items. We may be able to help to get donated items. Partnerships with local chimney sweeps and wood stove stores may help to get these items at cost, with no mark-up.
Q. Buying wood. Can I use funds to purchase logs for firewood?
A. Of course! Buying truckloads of green logs during the spring or summer and then cutting and splitting them with your volunteers is one of the cheapest ways to produce firewood, if you cannot get enough free wood.
Q. Drying sheds. Can I buy materials for a large, metal shed that can season 30 – 100 cords of wood for under $5,000, and then pay under $5,000 for the labor to put it together?
A. We can only cover materials to build sheds, not the labor. However, there are a number of companies that sell materials for large structures that are relatively easy to put together. Some carports with sides in the 20x30 foot range may work for firewood banks. Or building your own shed is often a good option.
Q. Personal equipment. If someone brings their own chain saw or splitter, and it breaks at the wood bank lot, will the grant pay for it to be replaced?
A. No. We can only over items in the budget and cannot be responsible for personal equipment used by the bank. However, repairs for personal equipment such as a chainsaw could be covered with miscellaneous funds. We encourage groups to budget small sums for this purpose.
Q. If our wood is above 20% moisture content, can we distribute it?
A. This is one of the toughest issues. Firewood banks must do their utmost to deliver seasoned wood during the heating season. We would consider wood at 30% moisture content or above to be unacceptable to deliver during the heating season. Wood management is one the MOST important parts of running a wood bank. We highly recommend that you try to keep your more seasoned wood and your less seasoned wood separate so you can deliver your seasoned wood first and hold back wood that is not yet seasoned. Its also essential that you cut and split your wood as quickly as possible once you receive it, as it dries so much faster after it is cut and split – and covered!
Q. Do we have to keep our wood covered?
A. There is no simple answer to this and it partly depends on what type of wood and the climate you are in. As a general rule, yes, covering your wood will help it dry faster.
Q. Children: We have a 14-year old volunteer who has some experience with chain saws. Is it OK for kids to use machinery like that at the wood bank?
A. Maintaining safety rules and a culture of safety is a top priority for firewood banks receiving these funds. People under the age of 18 are not allowed to use dangerous equipment like chainsaws and splitters. There are lots of other jobs for children and younger teens.
Q. Waivers: Do we really have to get paid staff and volunteers to sign liability waivers?
A. Yes. The liability waiver is designed to protect the wood bank – and the leaders and coordinators of the woodbank and the Alliance for Green Heat from liability. The liability waivers also help staff and volunteers better understand the dangers involved.
Q. Chaps. Is everyone who uses a chain saw really required to wear chaps?
A. Yes. While you cannot control what people do off-site, when they are on the wood bank site, it is required. Again, this is a simply a good safety practice that is for the protection of the woodbank and grant funds can cover chaps.
Q. Inspecting stoves and chimneys. Should we inspect the wood stove and chimney of firewood recipients before delivering wood?
A. This is up to you, but we highly recommend checking the stove to make sure its safe and that combustible materials are not too close to it. Ideally, you would have a professional chimney sweep volunteer to check the stove and chimney (not necessarily clean it) or have a local stove store come and check it. We do not recommend your volunteers to perform any work in homes and this should be done by qualified professionals. (See How to Inspect a Wood Stove.)
Q. Wood storage. What shall we do if the recipient has no way to store their wood and keep it dry?
A. Some banks go so far as to stack wood on porch or under some covered area, but some homes do not have any covered place to store wood. There is no easy solution here but you should discuss options and best practices with all firewood recipients. Getting wood stacked and covering the stack with a tarp (to cover the top, not the sides) or some other cover is important. See here and here for low-cost ways to store wood.