If you have needs that aren’t currently being adequately met within your regular operating budget and you aren’t taking advantage of grant opportunities, you could be doing a disservice to your department and your community. Grants are a great way to acquire additional funding for equipment and services that exceed your fire department’s operational budget. FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFG) is designed to help firefighters and other first responders obtain critically needed equipment including, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training and other resources necessary for protecting emergency response personnel and their communities from fire and related hazards.
“The primary goal of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) is to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and non-affiliated emergency medical service organizations.”
How to Apply
FEMA’s AFG application period is expected to open soon. Once the application period opens, there is a short window of opportunity to complete the application (typically a few weeks). Writing a successful proposal takes time. It will require planning, compiling data, making a budget, writing an outline and then a draft, proofreading, revisions, and finally submitting the application. Start preparing now if you haven’t already.
For assistance on how to apply for AFG funding, check out these resources:
- When the AFG application period opens, you should be able to apply here.
- Be sure to look over FEMA’s AFG Rules & Tools for fire departments and non-affiliated emergency medical service organizations.
- Check out FEMA’s AFG Guides & Tutorials.
- This page contains links to FEMA’s AFG documents, program guidance, and related information.
Before You Apply…
System for Award Management (SAM) Registration
SAM Registration (or renewal) is required to apply or receive grant funds.
Environmental & Historic Preservation
You’ll need to conduct an environmental and historic preservation compliance review. (All federally funded projects must undergo an environmental review)
NOTE: You do not need to complete the screening form if your grant project is limited to:
- Management and administration
- Classroom-based training
- Tabletop and functional exercises
- The purchase of mobile and portable equipment where no installation is needed
Complete a Federal Financial Report
A Federal Financial Report must be completed every year to submit financial information about individual grant awards.
- Tip: Be sure to address COVID-19 related impacts to your budget. This will come up in the Financial Need section of your application.
6 Tips for Writing a Successful Proposal
Grant writing may seem like a daunting process but arming yourself with the proper tools and resources can help you gain the confidence you need to be successful.
- Follow the Rules
- Make Your Proposal Clear and Concise
- Correctly Identify the Problem
- Make Your Case with High Quality Data
- Reach Out for Help
- Review and Get Feedback
Read more about these tips in our white paper, How to Get More Grant Funding.
Why is Data So Important?
As first responders, we collect information, learn from it, and put that knowledge to use on a daily basis. Unfortunately, some fire departments are still playing technology catch-up when it comes to actively using this data to support strategy development, grant funding, and other initiatives within their departments. According to the FY2020 AFG Communications Project Guide released by FireRescue1, reviewers will tell you they would have given many applications higher scores if the applicants had only presented a more complete picture of their situation. Your department’s data can paint that picture for you.
Having a comprehensive Records Management System (RMS) can save you a lot of time and hassle when collecting information to use in your proposal. Common information like turnout times, types of calls, call volume, and more are available instantly.
“Writing grants is challenging enough. Don’t let the lack of quality data hold you back from being successful,” advises Tom Louis, ER’s Business Development Analyst and 22-year fire service veteran.
Use your department’s RMS to pull relevant data to support the narrative of your application. Rather than using emotional appeals to sway decision makers, fire departments need to be prepared to defend their proposal with hard data that can be used to demonstrate their value to the community, examine and defend your department’s budget, and highlight gaps in funding. Using quantitative data as evidence to support your narrative can greatly improve your credibility. Emergency Reporting will allow you to pull specific reports to support your case, including Report 1501 – Equipment Replacement Date for Category for Subcategory for Date Range, Report 553 – Breakdown by Major Incident Types for Date Range, and Report 1696 – Apparatus Replacement Year by NFIRS Apparatus Type.
If you aren’t sure where to start, check out our white paper, How to Get More Grant Funding. This guide covers helpful tips and resources as well as some common mistakes to avoid in the grant writing process.