Better Than A Grant: Free Equipment and Training

So who is eligible you ask? To be more specific, any law enforcement, fire department, EMS agency, and even formally organized task forces are eligible to apply.

One major change in Phase III was the inclusion of the Cost of Ownership (COO) of the equipment in the application as well as the program guidance documents. Some of the items have significant yearly costs which may offset the point of being awarded free equipment. The COO is certainly less than the purchase price of the equipment, but for instance the RIOS will cost approximately $4,800 annually to maintain between Tech Support and software upgrades. Some items have no COO, while others are just the cost to replace the disposable items.

Award Format Different from Other Programs

The format of CEDAP is also different: the RKB actually purchases a set quantity of each item, so the level of competition for each piece of equipment is dependent on the number of applicants for that particular item. Unlike the AFG where scoring is based solely on Program Guidelines for CEDAP applicants for each item are directly in competition against each other, so the pressure is a little higher to ensure that you put together a proper application.

The application is very straightforward, but it does require a lot of background information about the Homeland Security related risks in the area you serve. Most departments don't have this information readily available. For instance the application asks about the risk assessments that were performed in the area, when they were performed and who performed them.

I have worked with several departments whose state or county Emergency Management Agencies performed assessments without their knowledge. This is the type of information that every department needs to know, so if you don't know about an assessment in your area contact your local and state Homeland Security officials to find out if one was performed.

Do not, by any means, pencil whip this information. Part of the verification process for scoring is to contact the State Administrative Agency (SAA) and verify the information you submitted as well as whether or not the equipment requested is consistent with the State's Homeland Security plan. If you are asking for something that isn’t consistent with that plan, or something you claim is wrong the SAA will recommend denial of the application and you will be out of luck.

The narrative type questions that are asked are also quite different from what AFG applicants will be used to. Applicants have to remember that this is a program meant at mitigating terrorism-related incidents. That is the primary focus, not handling every day fires or rescues. So the answer given must take into consideration the potential risk targets that were mentioned earlier in the application and explain how the equipment will be used in an incident at one of those locations.

In addition it would be beneficial to mention why the applicant does not have the requested item already. You don't have to go into a full blown explanation of your budget, but if you have the room (there is a 2,000 character limit) you could easily use your explanation from your AFG application. There's no reason to reinvent the wheel.

The other question wants to know how your agency is going to remain proficient with the equipment. The reasoning behind this is that many agencies get a much needed tool and never touch it or train with it.

We all know that in the heat of the moment some people get easily flustered with something they don't understand. They do not want the same thing happening here. In any incident responders are expected to arrive ready to help, with the best tool being the trained personnel. In the right hands equipment can perform, in the wrong hands it can just be an expensive way to take up space on a truck. This is where your every day incidents and routine training come into play.

For instance, Thermal Imaging Cameras can be used on lots of different types of calls and during trainings, not just terrorist incidents. RIT operations, overhaul, large area searches for accident victims or lost children in addition to any regular training are all opportunity enough for your personnel to become and stay familiar with the equipment.

Training Provided with Equipment

For awardees the program provides proper training from the various manufacturers to ensure that agencies get the right training and aren't left with a box, directions, and note that says "Congratulations and Good Luck figuring it out." So depending on the item trainings can happen in your area or at one location.