Friday, March 26, 2010

2010 FEMA Fire Grant Program Overview

For those who have not yet attended, or may not be able to attend a 2010 FEMA grant workshop, we offer our comments based on attendance at a recent workshop. We should point out that these comments are based on our understanding of the material presented.

Assistance to Firefighters (AFG)

There will be less funding this year than last year. Competition for vehicles will be INTENSE for $97.5 million allocated! There will be no building and construction plan for 2010.

In the Operations and Safety category, the priorities have changed. Top priority projects will be favored. Departments that do not have 100% of their personnel trained would be well advised to apply for training to correct this issue. Grading will be prioritized on CALL VOLUME AND POPULATION SERVED! There are no major differences between the 2009 and 2010 guidelines known at this time. The requirements of the 2009 program will be more rigidly enforced.

In regard to communications, all digital equipment will be (a) P25 capable and/or (b) subject to compliance with SAFECOM standards. As a senior executive from a major manufacturer stated, there are some “cracks in the door” (i.e. the possibility of applying for equipment that can be upgraded to P25, or a plan to certify interoperability with the State Plan). In reality, it will cost you more to “upgrade” than it would to purchase approved P25 equipment. State DHS offices cannot draft policy and/or guidance for federally administered grant programs including the FEMA Assistance to Firefighters grant.

We are aware of the claims of some vendors that narrow band 12.5 kHz analog or competitive digital formats meet the requirements for being P25 compatible. THEY DO NOT! For clarification on this issue, please click here.

Relative to competitive bidding, you WILL get a minimum of two bid responses. You will not write restrictive specifications, and you will not use geographic proximity as the basis for award of your bid. The award will be based on compliance with specifications and low price alone. FEMA will not pay for extended warranties.

If you are applying for a TANKER, do not apply for one with a pumping capacity of more than 500 gpm. Do NOT include mutual aid in you call statistics or your justification for funds. The grading is based on your service to your community, not lower insurance rates or helping neighboring departments. By FEMA’s definition, your job is to protect your community and your fire fighters.

The good news is that FEMA will now pay for smoke and fire alarm notification systems for fire stations as well as various type of vehicle location, directional assistance, and time reporting systems (think Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) systems). Hearing protection systems and wireless fire ground communications are also approved. More information will be provided later on the $30 million Fire Protection & Safety (FP&S) program which will open in the fall as well as the smaller ($7.8 Million) EMS program which are a part of the $320 million dollar AFG program.

Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Program

Originally targeted to receive $420 million, compared to $390 million for AFG, this program could receive another $500 million as part of the presidential jobs stimulation program. Of particular interest to smaller departments, the Recruitment and Retention program will pay for the cost of recruitment (advertising), administrative cost (internal, or by private contractor, tuition assistance, and even turnout gear!

For additional information, just give us a call at 205.854.2611 or drop us an email to We'll be looking forward to hearing from you!