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Overlooked Grants Could Bolster Your Budget

Editor’s note: Bryan Jack is available to answer your grant-related questions as part of his regular column section, Grants Q&A. If you have a query regarding grants and funding, e-mail Bryan at

By Bryan Jack

Question: “In order to qualify for a grant, does my fire company have to be really broke? Our company is saving for a new apparatus, but we also need radios because we currently go into burning structures without communication. So would we not qualify if the company already has some radios?”

To answer your question directly, the answer is no, your fire company does not need to be “really broke” in order to qualify for most grants. It sounds like you have a legitimate safety concern and an interoperability issue “going into burning structures without communications.” Safety and interoperability are both hot-button issues right now, so there should be multiple programs to assist with purchases that support these items.

Grants and financial assistance come in all forms and sizes. The qualifications, priorities, guidelines and award amounts also vary widely. Some grants are target item specific and rather limited — they are for a single type of item or purpose like radios, PPE, a particular manufacturer’s product, etc. Other grants can cover broad programs or services like firefighter safety or fire prevention. Under a broad scope grant, items like PPE, radios, TIC’s, and air monitoring devices, could all be applied for as part of a “program.”

Organizations often focus on the “big money” grants only (AFG, SAFER, FP&S) and may overlook private, local, regional, and state grants and funding programs. These grants can be great resources in your quest for funding.

Here’s an example of finding alternative funding: On an annual basis my organization spends $10,000 on fire prevention and public safety outreach programs. We recently partnered with our local Walmart, who is now covering $2,000 of the costs for public safety outreach. Additionally, we successfully applied for a grant through the local women’s club to cover the costs of some upgraded technical rescue equipment — we had set aside $5,000 for this from our budget but the grant covered the entire amount. So, after partnering with Walmart and receiving the local grant we covered $7,000 in costs from our budget. The money we had originally set aside for those costs can now be applied to another need that we have, like radios.

Don’t focus all your efforts on finding a grant just for a specific item like radios. It might be easier to write a grant and receive funding for another area, like PPE. You could then buy radios with the money you had earlier set aside for PPE.

The bottom line is that you have to identify the problem — we need radios.

Establish the goals — all interior firefighters will have radios.

Research the cost and alternatives of achieving you goals — are there multiple brands of radio with varying costs that will work?

Research all of the funding possibilities — private, local, regional, state and federal grants and cost sharing with neighboring agencies. Also consider different funding models for large capital projects — instead of paying outright for a major purchase, you may need to finance a portion, thus freeing existing funds for other purchases.

If you have any questions about fire industry grants, you can write to me anytime at

Bryan Jack is a grant consultant with and its sister site, A 15-year veteran of the fire service, Bryan is currently serving as Battalion Chief at Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District in Monument, Colorado. A certified Fire Officer and Paramedic, Bryan has been successfully writing, reviewing and consulting on grants for more than five years. For any questions related to grants, you can contact Bryan at He will be featuring some of the questions – and his answers – in upcoming columns.