By Jerry Brant
In most aspects, the Fire Station Construction Grant (SCG) application is very similar to the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) request. The SCG application has four key elements that must be addressed: Project Description, Financial Need, Cost/Benefit and Effect on Daily Operations.
The SCG application process, like AFG, also has a prescreening process and a peer review sequence. However, SCG has implemented additional procedures as part of their review process. These include the following:
1. After completion of the prescreening process, DHS will choose the top $420 million in applications and forward them on to the peer review panel for further examination.
2. The three-person peer review panel will judge each of the forwarded applications on its own merits. They will assign a score based on the applicant’s ability to address the four narrative elements in a complete and concise manner.
3. Applicants that have a sufficient score, after the peer review is completed, will be considered to be in the fundable range.
4. At this point, applications that are still in the running will go through a Technical Review as well as a Program Office Review. During this phase, your application will be examined by several specialists to see if your project is capable of achieving the benefits stated in your application. In addition, your application and its budget will be analyzed by construction specialists to determine if your proposed project is in conformance with standard codes and practices. Your budget will also be reviewed to determine if you have requested a sufficient amount of funding to adequately undertake the project.
5. A final evaluation of the project will be conducted by the Program Office to insure eligibility prior to the announcement of awards.
As you can see, the SCG has added several additional steps to its review process from other DHS grant programs. The one point that may be a blessing in disguise is the fact that during the Technical Review segment you will be contacted by DHS and asked to submit additional information regarding your construction plans and budget. If you are fortunate to receive this e-mail from DHS, then you will have some indication of your application's status.
The SCG application, like previous AFG applications, will open with questions concerning your department information and characteristics. Next, the application will move to questions which will concentrate on your coverage area's specific economic indicators. These questions will focus strictly on changes in unemployment during the 2007 and 2008 calendar years.
Also featured will be inquiries on poverty, spending and average household income for your coverage area. The application will have a number of links built into it for you to easily access Census data, Department of Labor Statistics and other pertinent information.
You need to constantly keep in mind as you are developing your application that the focus of this funding is to stimulate the economy of areas that have experienced severe economic devastation due to the recent recession. The focus of this program is not simply to build or renovate fire stations that are currently inadequate.
On Wednesday, we'll take a look at the specific elements of the application.