Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Comment on Fire Grants

The 2010 Fire Prevention and Safety Grant (FP&S) closed on February 4, 2011 (Why a 2010 grant closed in 2011 is a topic for another day).  

It is commonly known that this grant is the orphan stepchild of the FEMA Fire grant program, sometimes referred to as the coloring book and smoke detector program. 

This year, we noted a declining interest in this program, partly because of some misconceptions as to what could be done, the funding available, and pent up anger in the inefficiencies of government in general.

At one county fire association meeting, I noted a level of anger and frustration by many of the attendees that reflected the feelings of many whom we serve.  In essence, what I was hearing was I had rather be poor and proud than endowed and indebted.  This represents a quantum shift in the thinking of many who have benefited from government sponsored assistance programs.

The net result was the lowest level of interest in an available federal grant program that I can recall, and that is a LONG time since I go back to the days of LEAA (A law enforcement grant program developed in the 70’s).

While it is true that most of us have been conditioned to exist on government subsidies, and many have benefited from those subsidies, it is equally true that a return to common sense is needed.  I see signs of that happening.  I also see signs of increasing responsibility as government watchdog agencies, such as the DHS Inspector General’s Office take a more proactive role in the investigation of cases of abuse and fraud by some grant recipients.  I see these changes as positive and beneficial for us all.

To say that I am somewhat disappointed that more of those we serve did not take advantage of a program we developed for safer communities would be untrue.  On the other hand, I am delighted to announce that a significant number of communities DID apply for funding to make their communities safer for their citizens and first responders.  To these folks, we extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation for your concern for those you serve, and those who serve you.

For what it’s worth, a non-grant funded version of the referenced program is available at no cost to communities who wish to offer enhanced fire/intrusion detection and notification services to those who would benefit.  Additional information is available by clicking here.