The 2013 Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) opening is here! As you work toward the December 6 deadline, is your department adequately prepared to submit a competitive application this year?
If you hesitated before answering that question, there are steps you should start taking now to help your chances of getting funded.
First, let’s review some steps that you must take this year in order for you to be able to submit an application:
Make sure you have a DUNS number
Effective October 1, 2003, all federal grant applications must contain a Dun & Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number. The DUNS number helps the Federal Government identify organizations that receive federal funding and ensures consistent name and address data for electronic grant applications.
There is no charge to obtain a DUNS number and it is your organization’s responsibility to obtain one. FEMA will not grant extensions to applicants who are unable to obtain a DUNS number prior to the end of the application period. You are encouraged to apply for a DUNS number as soon as possible by calling (866) 705-5711 or you can apply online. Remember, it may take several weeks to obtain the number so this isn‘t something that you want to do the last week the grant period is open.
Get registered in SAM
Next, your organization must be registered in SAM. The System for Award Management (SAM) is a Federal Government owned and operated free website that consolidates the capabilities in CCR/FedReg, ORCA, and EPLS.
Future phases of SAM will add the capabilities of other systems used in federal procurement and awards processes. During the 2012 AFG grant process a large number of awards were delayed because the departments were not registered with SAM.
For the 2013 AFG application, you must be registered with SAM in order to apply. Per 2 CFR Part 25, all grant applicants MUST have an active current SAM registration status at the time of application and throughout the duration of any federal award. Therefore, in order to receive an AFG Grant award, you must be registered and have up-to-date information in the online System for Award Management or SAM (SAM.gov). SAM registration is free of charge.
If you enter a website and are required to pay a fee in order to register, this is not a federal site and you should not provide your information to this site. Several bogus SAM registration sites have appeared over the last year. These sites require payment in order to register and they are not affiliated with the federal government. Please be aware of this.
Gather your contacts and data
Next, decide who your points of contact are going to be for this year’s grant application. Assemble all of their contact information so that it is ready to input when the grant opens. Check to see if your banking information is still the same from your last application.
Then look at your department data. Consider questions like:
How many firefighters does your department have that respond to alarms?
What percentage of your firefighters are trained to NFPA standard 1001 Fire fighter I and II?
If your department has less than 100 percent, what are your plans to achieve 100 percent certification?
What was your call volume for 2012?
How many calls did you have in each category?
Is your call volume increasing or decreasing over the past three to five years?
What was your budget for 2012?
How did this compare with the budgets for the past three to five years?
How do your actual income and expenses for these periods compare to your budgets?
Are there projects that your department has delayed because of your financial situation?
Get quotes from your vendors and product reps
If your department has already decided on its grant request for 2013, now is the time to talk with vendors and manufacturing representatives to get information and price estimates. If you are considering a request for turnout gear or SCBA you must do any inventory of your current gear or SCBA for the AFG application. Now is the best time to do that inventory in order to get a correct item count. Remember, AFG will not fund the replacement of gear or SCBA that are newer than 10 years old or two NFPA cycles.
If your department is considering an application for a new vehicle, there are several pieces of critical information that you will need. First, determine what vehicle you are replacing. Next, find out how many alarms it answered in 2012. What is the VIN number of this vehicle? Is it a converted vehicle not originally manufactured for the fire service?
In the past, too much emphasis has been placed on writing the narrative sections of your AFG application. Yes, the narratives are an important part of the application, but your narratives will never be read and scored if your application does not get through technical review.
In order to get through technical review, the answers to the questions I have listed above are important. Also, as we all know, once AFG opens your call volume for that month will increase, something will break at the station and it will be parent teacher night at school. So avoid the last minute chaos, and have all of your information ready for the day AFG opens.
About the author
Jerry Brant is a Senior Grant Consultant and Grant Writer with FireGrantsHelp and EMSGrantsHelp. He has 40 years of experience as a volunteer firefighter in rural west central Pennsylvania. He is a life member of the Hope Fire Company of Northern Cambria, where he served as chief for 15 years. He is currently an active member of the Patton Fire Company #1. For 20 years, Jerry was employed as the executive director and then president of a small non-profit community development corporation. Jerry has successfully written more than $52 million in grant applications and proposals. Jerry can be reached at Jerry.Brant@FireGrantsHelp.com.
The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of FireRescue1.com or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser.