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SAFER – Award Process and Alternative Funding Sources

A number of departments that submitted SAFER applications have contacted our office about award status. Review panels are scheduled for the first week of May; once panels conclude it is typically 2-3 months before the first awards are received.  Keep in mind that there are many rounds of awards - previous years had 25+ rounds of awards which required 10 months to fully disburse all the funding.  It is helpful to keep some important numbers in mind.  In Fiscal Year 2013:

FEMA received 910 applications requesting 5,964 fire fighters.  Of these:

o 25 were rehiring applications for 160 personnel

o 58 were retention applications for 680 personnel

o 254 were attrition applications for 2026 personnel

o 573 were new hire applications for 3098 personnel

FEMA awarded 169 grants (18.5%) that funded 1,663 fire fighters (28%).  

While it’s too soon to tell who will be awarded, not all will be successful.  Fire departments around the country have been very creative and successful in their search for alternative funding and have been able to tap into a variety of alternate funding sources to meet their equipment and program needs including:  

FEMA AFG Training and Equipment and the Fire Prevention and Safety Grants.  

Published in April 2012, yet still very relevant, is the U.S. Fire Administration Funding Alternatives for Emergency Medical and Fire Services.  

An example of other funding opportunities is Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). The El Paso (TX) Fire Department was able to build a new fire station, remodel an existing fire station, as well as purchase several large pieces of apparatus with $1.5 million in CDBG funds. Contact the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs to find out more about this grant opportunity.

Many fire departments have had success at the local level from community and business organizations. This includes many utility and energy-producing companies, along with other corporate sponsors including insurance organizations.   

The Galveston (TX) Fire Department received a grant for two thermal imaging cameras from the Historic Preservation Grant Program.  In applying for the grant, the Galveston Fire Department used the rationale that with thermal imaging, the department could locate the seat of the fire faster and extinguish it with less damage to historic structures.


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