How to land a Fire Prevention and Safety grant

The grant period is open for the next month, here's how to improve your chances of landing an FP&S grant

The Federal Emergency Management Agency opened the Fire Prevention and Safety grant application period Feb. 18. Applications may be submitted until 5:00 p.m EST March 21.

This program allocates approximately $32 million for projects that support activities in two broad categories: fire prevention and safety, and firefighter safety research and development.

The first encompasses activities designed to reach high-risk target groups and mitigate frequencies of deaths and injuries caused by fire and fire-related hazards. The second includes research and development activities aimed at improving firefighter safety.

Guidelines for applicants
Eligible applicants under the fire prevention category include fire departments — national, regional, state, local, Native American tribal organizations and community organizations — that are known for their experience and knowledge in fire prevention and safety programs and activities. Both private and public non-profit organizations are eligible. However, for-profit entities are not eligible for funding under this section.

Under the firefighter safety research category, eligible applicants include national, regional, state and local organizations such as universities, public health, occupational health and injury prevention institutions. Fire departments are not eligible to apply for funding under this category.

Although this program is being conducted in calendar year 2014, it is actually the 2013 FP&S program.

In the past, some departments have misinterpreted the word "safety" in the title to indicate that firefighter safety equipment, such as turnout gear and SCBA, were eligible expenditures under this program. They are not. The safety portion of the program title denotes research and development of firefighter safety equipment and issues.

Cost matching
For this year's program, there is a 5 percent cost-match for all applicants. If successful, the grantee is not required to have the cost-share at the time of application, nor at the time of award.

Before a grant is awarded, FEMA will contact potential awardees to determine whether the grantee has the funding necessary to fulfill the cost sharing requirement either in hand or a has viable plan to obtain it.

Funding limitations that existed in FY2012 regarding total amount of AFG funds each applicant could receive based on population size are no longer applicable for the 2013 FP&S program. Therefore, you should apply for the amount you need to fund your FP&S application regardless of what you requested on a FY2013 AFG application.

If you plan to apply under the fire prevention and safety category, there are four criteria to keep in mind as you develop your application.

  1. You must develop a comprehensive plan that addresses a defined risk and target population. This can include the elderly, infants and young children, people with disabilities, people with special needs, and hearing or vision impaired individuals.
  2. You may only submit one application, but you can request up to three projects per activity.
  3. You must provide a separate budget for each project.
  4. You must have all proposed activities completed within one year of funding.

The fire prevention program has four specific categories available for project funding:

  • General education and awareness.
  • Code enforcement and awareness.
  • Fire and arson investigation.
  • National, state, and regional programs and studies.

There are six eligible activities under the general education and awareness category: smoke alarm distribution and installation, sprinkler awareness, public education, general prevention and awareness, risk assessments, and juvenile firesetter. 

Create a plan
To select an activity, start a risk assessment of your community and  develop a comprehensive plan. Your activity should be developed in direct relationship to the recommendations of your comprehensive plan.

FEMA encourages applicants designing fire prevention initiatives to use the U.S. Fire Administration's "Fire is Everyone's Fight" campaign.

This program uses a wide range of resources to communicate the importance of taking action to protect ourselves and others from the dangers of fire. The campaign is designed to unite the fire service and many others such as safety advocates, community groups, schools and others behind a common theme.

USFA and its partners will communicate and reinforce key lessons across many proven fire safety and prevention initiatives and programs.

Smoke alarm priority
Under the general education category, FEMA has designated only one priority — distribution and installation of smoke alarms. Statistics show that working smoke alarms greatly reduce the risk of fire related injuries and deaths. FEMA has placed a priority on projects that conduct door-to-door smoke alarm installation and home safety inspection.

Be sure your application addresses who will install the alarms. If it is not your department, describe how you will ensure the alarms are installed. Also, your application should include a section on the type of batteries that you will provide with the alarms and justification if you are not providing 10-year lithium batteries. 

Additional consideration will be given to applicants who indicate their project will meet the needs of the disabled in their community.

Under the code enforcement and awareness programs, priority will be given to programs that lead to the adoption of building codes in communities that currently have none. Projects may also include assistance for the adoption or awareness of building codes, promote code enforcement to improve engineering, or enact fire-related ordinances for new construction.

Eligible expenditures under this category include personnel costs, equipment or training assistance and support for enforcement activities.

For applications that propose fire and arson investigation projects, priority will be given to those with a goal of aggressively investigating every fire to determine cause and origin. Eligible expenditures may include arson investigation trailers, personnel costs, training and equipment expenses, education materials, surveillance equipment and arson prevention training.

Activities under the national, state and regional studies category must focus on residential fire issues, firefighter safety or both. Project outcomes must address how the proposed activity will change firefighter behavior or decision-making.

5 things to remember:

  • Initiate your project by conducting a risk assessment to determine your target population and risk.
  • Allow sufficient time to plan, develop and assemble your application.
  • Review the program guidance before you begin your application.
  • Have someone outside your project group review your application before it is submitted.
  • If you don’t have enough time to assemble and submit a competitive application, wait until the next funding opportunity.

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