Thousands of Departments Working On Grant Applications

Fourteen thousand and counting. The application process for the Firefighter Investment and Response Enhancement (FIRE) Act program is well underway with somewhat over that number of departments having registered, downloaded and in the process of data collection and narrative writing for submission.

The deadline for submitting applications is 5 p.m., April 11. Peer review is to begin April 21, for three weeks with an option to extend two more weeks if necessary. A few over 19,500 departments submitted applications in the last program.

And according Tom Olshanski, USFA Public Information Coordinator, it is anticipated that awards can begin toward the end of May or first of June, with a plan to complete this program by the end of 2003.

The program is running so smoothly that USFA has decided they can cut back on the hours during which they man their help desk phone line. According to Olshanski, the number of calls to the help desk are down as well as email requests for assistance.

Since the application is very similar to the one last year, and departments are more familiar with using the computer/electronic process it is felt departments are comfortable in approaching the task. Olshanski said they also felt workshops, over 650 conducted nationwide, helped answer the questions plaguing departments.

Also, Olshanski said quite a number of departments new to the process are filling out applications. He said that the USFA effort to get the word out to cities, counties and states on a broader scale has contributed to this.

USFA has also aided applicants by distributing videotape of a USFA Emmitsburg campus grant workshop that went out to and is available in the ten regional FEMA offices, state fire marshal offices and state emergency management departments. These tapes should be available at this time for those who need assistance, Olshanski said.

In addition, those departments that have access to satellite transmission delivery can check the FEMA Web site for information on receiving the broadcast, Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program-2003 Applicant Workshop. .The Emergency Education NETwork (EENET) is FEMA's satellite-based distance learning system. This network can bring interactive training programs into virtually any community nationwide.

USFA Announces Change to Help Desk Hours of Operation

WASHINGTON DC- The United States Fire Administration announces a change in the hours of operation for the Assistance to Firefighters Grants program Help Desk. The USFA Assistance to Firefighters Grant Help Desk will close at 8 p.m. EST., instead of the previous 10 p.m.

Also, the Help Desk will close completely on Sunday March 30, 2003. Callers will be able to leave voice messages, however, and calls will be returned the following day. Grant managers will monitor the call volume and make adjustments to these new hours as necessary. A return to the original help desk schedule toward the end of the grant application period is likely.

The end of the application period is still April 11, 2003 at 5:00 p.m. eastern time. The grant staff urges fire departments to submit their applications as soon as they are completed and not wait until the last day.

For further Assistance to Firefighters Grants inquiries, please contact the USFA grants staff at:

Help Desk Number: 1-866-274-0960 or Email: