By Jerry Brant
The 2011 Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) application period opens this coming Monday, with full details available at the FEMA website.
This year's program has $370 million available to help fund the needs of area fire departments and EMS agencies. This year's program also features a number of critical changes from previous years applications.
If you were simply thinking of dusting off last year's rejected project and resubmitting it, I think you need to reconsider your plans.
This year's program features the highest number of changes to the application process that we have witnessed in recent years. First and maybe the most significant change is the manner in which applications will be scored.
In the past applications first went through an electronic review.
If the application matched the AFG priorities it was forwarded to the review panel where your narrative was read and scored by the review team.
If your application didn't meet the priorities you were sent a rejection letter. We referred to this as a pass/fail system.
Your application either moved to peer review or it was rejected.
This year your application will still be reviewed electronically but this initial review will be assigned a score based on 100 points.
Your application will then be forwarded to the review panel where a group of three reviewers will read your narratives and assign a score to them based also on 100 points.
These two scores, the electronic and the peer review will then be added together and divided by 2 to give your application its final score.
If you noticed above I used the term narratives, that wasn't a typo, this year you will be directed to write more than one narrative for your application.
In addition the placement and configuration of the application narratives has changed dramatically.
Under Department Characteristics I you will be asked to indicate the percentage of active firefighters that you currently have trained to NFPA Standard 1001 Firefighter I and Firefighter II.
If this number is less than 100 percent you will be asked if you are requesting funds for training to help reach full compliance.
If you are not in full compliance and not requesting training funds then you will be asked to write a narrative describing your plans to achieve full compliance with the standard.
The next change that you will encounter deals with your department's financial need in funding your project.
In 2011 you will be asked to prepare only one Financial Need narrative for your entire application.
This Financial Need narrative will no longer appear at the end of the application but it will appear in the Department Characteristics Section (Part II).
In addition for each activity that you enter into the Request Details section of your application a link will appear asking you to generate four narrative statements.
These narratives will include Project Description, Cost Benefit, Statement of Effect, and Additional Information.
In other words if you are asking for financial assistance for training and new PPE you will be directed to prepare one Financial Need Narrative for your overall application and four narratives each for the training aspect and the PPE request.
This means your application will have a total of nine narratives.
As you can see from this brief overview the 2011 AFG application has a number of substantial changes from previous applications.
Our team suggests that you start to plan for your application today.
Here are some suggestions to help you get started for 2011 AFG:
- Make sure you have a current DUNS number and an active registration with CCR
- Conduct your department risk assessment if you haven't already
- Tried to attend an AFG Workshop if one is available in your area
- Review the online tutorial and the program guidance
- Keep checking with firegrantshelp for important updates and information