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What to do with your grant-acquired equipment


By Jerry Brant

The Assistance to Firefighters Grant program was established by Title XVII of the FY2001 National Defense Authorization Act to help address a variety of equipment, training, vehicle and other firefighter-related and EMS needs.

Because the program is now 13 years old, I have received a number of inquiries from fire departments asking what obligations they have if they want to dispose of equipment that was purchased with funding from one of the early AFG grants. As always my first response is to ask whether they have spoken with their Fire Program Specialist at their regional FEMA office.

I am always happy to hear from someone in the fire service, but your regional specialist is the person to whom you should really direct your AFG questions. Talking to someone at FEMA about grant-related questions is more efficient and reliable than talking to your neighboring fire department or someone on the internet about these issues. If you don’t know the number for your specialist it is available on the AFG website.

As far as the disposition of equipment acquired under a grant or subgrant the guiding document is 44 CFR 13.32 (e). This section states:

When original or replacement equipment acquired under a grant or subgrant is no longer needed for the original project or program or for other activities currently or previously supported by a Federal agency, disposition of the equipment will be made as follows:

  1. Items of equipment with a current per-unit fair-market value of less than $5,000 may be retained, sold or otherwise disposed of with no further obligation to the awarding agency.
  2. Items of equipment with a current per-unit fair-market value in excess of $5,000 may be retained or sold and the awarding agency shall have a right to an amount calculated by multiplying the current market value or proceeds from sale by the awarding agency’s share of the equipment.
  3. In cases where a grantee or sub grantee fails to take appropriate disposition actions, the awarding agency may direct the grantee or sub grantee to take excess and disposition actions.

Now what does all this really mean? Basically, if the equipment you received through an AFG award currently has outlived its useful life or has a value of less than $5,000, the department can dispose of it in any way it sees fit after receiving FEMA approval. Some examples of this might be PPE and SCBA that were funded with the original AFG awards.

On the other hand, if you received an award for a vehicle 13 years ago the fair-market value of that rig is certainly in excess of $5,000. You may have to return a portion of the sale price to FEMA if you decide that the vehicle is no longer needed by your department.

The best advice I have always given grantees is communicate with your grant specialist when you have questions.

Regardless of the agency or program that is funding your project it will help to make management of your grant so much easier.

Jerry Brant is a senior grant consultant and grant writer with FireGrantsHelp and EMSGrantsHelp. He has 46 years of experience as a volunteer firefighter in 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 an active member of the Patton Fire Company 1 and serves as safety officer. Brant graduated from Saint Francis University with a bachelor’s degree in political science. In 2003, he was awarded a James A Johnson Fellowship by the FannieMae Foundation for his accomplishments in community development, and in 2019, he was honored as with the Leroy C Focht Sr. Memorial Award from the Central District Volunteer Fireman’s Association. He has successfully written more than $70 million in grant applications. Brant can be reached via email.