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AFG clarification: How to handle FEMA’s PPE follow-up requests

With AFG awards around the corner, you may be asked to clarify some points before learning your fate


Part of the complexity of answering the follow-up questions is we’re still dealing with FEMA’s ambiguous definitions of SCBA or turnout gear that deserves to be funded under AFG.

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As a grant consultant, I often hear one of two questions, depending on the time of year:

  1. “When do you think the next round of applications for AFG will open?” and
  2. “When do you think AFG awards will start being announced?”

I use an overly complex secret formula to determine the answer to these questions. As I analyze the visions generated by this process, I see the winning Powerball numbers, the answers to someone’s physics test, the true meaning of life and then, off in a far corner, the Assistant to Firefighters Grants (AFG) Program grant award opening date.

I will get to that in a minute, but first, some important information.

Clarification emails to 2020 AFG applicants

On May 2 and 3, FEMA emailed 475 AFG applicants to the 2020 AFG program, asking them to clarify a portion of their application. All these applicants had applied for PPE.

Their applications had made it through the computer review, then scored high enough in peer review that the applications were forwarded to technical review. As part of the technical review, these applicants are being asked for additional information:

  1. Does your selection of “Replace unusable/unrepairable equipment to meet current standard” for any applicable PPE request(s) in your FY 2020 AFG application align with the definition outlined above?
    • If yes, please explain how your organization is currently operating without the use of any PPE declared in your application as unusable/unrepairable and out-of-service.
    • If your PPE request indicates a 100% replacement of existing PPE that is currently all out-of-service, please explain how your organization is operating without the indicated PPE.
  2. If the selection of “Replace unusable/unrepairable equipment to meet current standard” was made in error for any PPE request, please provide an explanation clarifying the condition of applicable PPE and whether such PPE is currently in service.

The problem: We’re still dealing with FEMA’s ambiguous definitions of SCBA or turnout gear that deserves to be funded under AFG. The other issue: You know your application has made it to the final stage of review, so how do you answer these questions?

How to handle the request

First, be truthful in your answer. Second, tell FEMA in your own words the current situation with your SCBA or turnout gear. If you had to pull unusable gear, for example, tell FEMA: “Because of the condition of our gear, we had to pull five sets and placed them out of service. Those five firefighters are now sharing gear with other members.” In another scenario, if you have SCBA out of service, tell FEMA why and how long it has been out of service and if you can reasonably expect it to be back in service anytime soon. Also explain to reviewers how you have been dealing with fewer SCBA on your apparatus.

This response to FEMA does not have to be one of the great literary works of all time. It simply needs to paint a picture of your situation in everyday language.

I recommend letting someone else review your draft before emailing your response, but don’t miss the deadline. Email your response to the AFG Help Desk ( by May 18, 2021.

Now, back to my premonitions: My guess is AFG awards will begin the first week in June. Now I’m off to play Powerball!

Good luck!

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.