What you need to know about the FY 2018 SAFER Grant program

The 2018 Safer Grant application period is open; understand the objectives, guidelines and your eligibility


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By Jerry Brant

The DHS has announced the fiscal year 2018 SAFER Grant period and guidelines. An announcement said 300 SAFER Grants equaling $350,000,000 are available to fire departments.

The SAFER Grant program provides direct funding to volunteer, career and combination fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations. The objective of the SAFER grant program is to assist local fire departments with staffing and deployment capabilities to respond to emergencies and ensure that communities have adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards.

The SAFER Grant program provides direct funding to volunteer, career and combination fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations. (Photo/Pixabay)
The SAFER Grant program provides direct funding to volunteer, career and combination fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations. (Photo/Pixabay)

Local fire departments accomplish this by increasing the number of firefighters and how they are deployed to more effectively and safely respond to emergencies and meet industry minimum standards. With enhanced staffing levels, recipients should experience a reduction in response times and an increase in the number of trained personnel assembled at the incident scene.

The goal of the program is for departments to meet or surpass NFPA 1710: Standard for the Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations, and Special Operations to the Public by Career Fire Departments; or NFPA 1720: Standard for the Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations and Special Operations to the Public by Volunteer Fire Departments, whichever applies, for staffing and deployment.

SAFER funding may be used to recruit and hire new, additional firefighters or it maybe used to retain firefighters.

What organizations are eligible to apply for SAFER Grant funding?

Under the FY 2018 SAFER Grant program, eligible applicants are limited to those entities described below within each activity:

  • Hiring of Firefighters Activity. Volunteer, combination and career fire departments are eligible to apply for funding. National, state, local or federally recognized tribal organizations representing the interests of volunteer firefighters are not eligible to receive a SAFER Grant award under the Hiring of Firefighters Activity. 
  • Recruitment and Retention of Volunteer Firefighters Activity. Volunteer and combination fire departments; and national, state, local or federally recognized tribal organizations representing the interests of volunteer firefighters are eligible to apply for funding. 

Career fire departments are not eligible to receive a SAFER Grant award under the Recruitment and Retention of Volunteer Firefighters Activity.

New for the 2018 SAFER Grant application

A waiver is now available for the position cost limit and the applicant cost share. The amount of federal funding provided to a recipient under the SAFER Hiring of Firefighters Activity for hiring a new firefighter in any fiscal year must follow these guidelines: 

  • In the first and second years of the grant, 75 percent of the usual annual cost of a first-year firefighter in that department at the time the grant application was submitted; and   in the third year of the grant, 35 percent of the usual annual cost of a first-year firefighter in that department at the time the grant application was submitted. This is the applicant cost share.  A waiver may be filed to reduce the applicants share over the three years of the grant. An applicant can also apply for a waiver for the position cost limit. Under SAFER, a department may not pay a new SAFER firefighter more than the usual annual cost for a new firefighter.
  • Pursuant to IB 427, applicants must indicate when they apply for an award whether they are requesting a waiver and what requirement they seek to waive.
  • The simplified acquisition threshold increased to $250,000.
  • The definition of “new recruit” has changed. A new recruit is a firefighter that has joined after the department is notified of the grant award (the date of the award notification email in the eGrants mail center).  
  • The Prioritization Table has been changed for compliance with NFPA 1710 and 1720. I highly suggest that you review this matrix before applying. If the intended outcome of your application doesn’t fall into the High Priority category, you may want to reconsider the number of firefighters that you are requesting or you may want to wait and apply at a future time.

The SAFER application period opened on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019. The application window closes on Friday, Mar. 22, at 5 p.m., EST. Good luck to all applicants.

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