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How to not sabotage your fire grant application

There are several ways fire departments can disqualify or hurt their grant application's chance of being funded; they are all preventable


The 2016 Assistance to Firefighters Grant is now open. I have always been a proponent of early planning when it comes to developing and assembling a competitive grant application.

At this point in the process, those who have followed that suggestion should have an easier time dealing with this year's application. To help both those who have a defined plan for 2016 AFG and for those who are still trying to figure out what they are going to apply for, here are a few words of advice.

I know many are tired of hearing about these twins, but please make sure you have a DUNS number. Next, make sure you have a current SAM registration. The important word in that sentence is current.

Just because someone from your department registered the organization with SAM three years ago does not mean that your department has a valid registration. SAM registration must be renewed annually. If this has not occurred, your registration is not current.

Finally, make sure that the information in DUNS matches the information in SAM. I know this has become a pain to some of you, but your department cannot be listed as Lincoln Fire Company 1 with one and Lincoln Fire Company with another.

Having a DUNS number and a valid SAM registration has always been important, but this year it is critical. I have heard from sources that if you do not have a DUNS number or a valid SAM registration this year your application will simply not be processed if it is selected for a possible award.

That's correct. No more phone calls or emails from FEMA telling you to get your SAM or DUNS in order because you are being considered for an award. This year, if you score high enough after peer review to be considered for an award and you do not have a valid DUNS number or SAM registration, FEMA will simply go to the next application in line and you will not receive an award.

PPE and equipment rules
Personal protective equipment is a very popular category with applicants and for good reason. It is the heart of every fire department. You simply cannot exist without it.

FEMA has made it crystal clear that it will only consider funding replacement PPE that is a minimum of two NFPA cycles and 10 or more years old from the date they were manufactured. If you have SCBA made in 2007 or 2008, they will not meet this priority.

The same is true for turnout gear. Also, when you are getting estimates for turnout gear, remember this year AFG considers a complete set to include two hoods and two pair of gloves.

FEMA has changed the way it scores the equipment category. Equipment will now be scored using an additional age category. Equipment is assigned to an age category of Short (5 to 7 years old), Medium (8 to 14 years old) or Long (15 to 20 years old).

These age categories are used to compare like types of equipment. Under this system, an item that should have a useful life of 10 years is only competing against other items that have a similar lifecycle.

An application does not score higher or lower based on the product lifecycle of an item. It only serves to ensure a more even scoring of equipment based on type.

Communication, regional grants
If you are planning to apply for communications equipment, the only eligible AFG activity for interoperable communications equipment is that which is P-25 compliant.

P-25 compliant interoperable communications equipment has a digital platform that is programmable, scalable and can communicate in analog mode with legacy radios, and in both analog and digital mode with other P-25 equipment. P-25 compliance enhances interoperability, allowing first responders to communicate with each other.

Procuring interoperable communications equipment that does not meet P-25 compliance is not allowed. And there are no waivers for P-25 waivers compliance.

Also, Priority 1 wellness and fitness activities are now eligible when applying for a micro grant.

When applying under a regional application, you must have a memorandum of understanding signed by all the partners in the application prior to the Nov. 18 grant closing.

Also, the maximum amount that you can apply for under any regional activity is the total population served by all departments in the region, not just by the host.

Although this regulation has been part of AFG for years, departments constantly get that puzzled look when vehicles are mentioned. The department absolutely cannot encumber the title of an AFG-funded vehicle. In other words, you cannot take a loan out to make your match or to cover any overages for a FEMA funded vehicle.

Remember, when in doubt read the guidance document, call the help desk or get in touch with us at firegrantshelp.com. Good luck.

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