Changes You Need to Know About the 2013 AFG Program

Learn about some of the 2013 Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program changes, including the way the funding is alloted, some of the matching funds policies and the new vehicle rules.

10% for fire prevention and safety – Even though it’s a separate application period, the funding for Fire Prevention & Safety grant (FP&S) comes from the AFG program. In the past, it’s only been allocated to be a minimum of 5%, but awards have been in the $35 million range. So this is a slight reduction, but not much of a change in opportunity. This application period will probably not open until January or February of 2014. 

2% to non-affiliated EMS providers – This has not changed from past years. So the $6,418,401 is for organizations that solely provide EMS transport services and are not affiliated with a fire department or hospital.

3% to state fire academies – Yes, this is new: 3% ($9,627,602) of the AFG funding is going to state fire academies. This is only for the state academy in each state, not local academies, or for-profit training companies. The academy must be state run, which means basically one application per state for AFG in this section. The cap is $500,000 per award, and projects can include vehicles to provide training (not emergency responses), training materials and equipment to support training. Personnel costs are not allowed. 

This is not a separate funding category, but a requirement that 3.5% ($11,232,203) of the total funding goes to EMS-related projects. This includes the 2% for non-affiliated EMS providers mentioned above, so assuming all of that goes to them there will be 1.5% ($4,813,801) of the funding across all of the fire department categories going to EMS projects. 

Vehicle Funding Twist

The totals above are for all projects in each of the categories, so the award funding covers vehicles and operations and safety projects. As in the past, the limit on vehicle awards is in place and it is the usual 25% of the funding, but this year there is a twist to it in that 10% of the available vehicle funding will go to ambulances. This only affects the fire side, not EMS side, since the only vehicles that are Priority 1 for EMS applicants are ambulances. 

Wrap your head around this real quick: 10% of the 25% of the 25% in each Fire Department Classification is going to ambulances. Don’t worry, I won’t leave you hanging there, it’s easy to get lost in the numbers but that’s actually how the math works. 

To break it down into real numbers so it doesn't take a pot of coffee and a phone call to that friend that can do calculus in their head, here’s how it looks:

$80,230,021 is the 25% of funding for combination departments
$20,057,505 is the 25% of that which is the cap on vehicle awards
$2,005,750 is the 10% of the vehicle cap that will go to ambulances

That leaves $18,051,750 for Fire Apparatus in the Combination Department category. The same math applies to the Volunteer, Career, and Up For Grabs 10% that all 3 types of departments can compete for. 

In a nutshell, if you’re a fire department that runs EMS transport, this is your best year yet to go after an ambulance if you are in need in comparison to past years. Even though ambulances have been Priority 1 vehicles in the past, they have not been funded very often despite the overall need. Note I said need, which goes back to proper project design. Overall fleet age, quantity of vehicle types, age of first-out vehicles, and the other metrics are still in effect so just because they have more to hand out doesn’t mean you’ll be able to waltz into this category and come away with an award. You still have to be competitive in the first place for making the request based on your assessment. But this is where you might make the decision to go for that ambulance instead of another type of vehicle. 

Local Funding Match Changes

There were two changes in this arena for 2013 that might alter your project designs as well. The old breakdown was:

Under 20,000 permanent residents: 5% local match
20,000-50,000 permanent residents: 10% local match
Over 50,000 permanent residents: 20% local match

The new 2013 local matching is now:

Under 20,000 permanent residents: 5% local match (same)
20,000-1 million permanent residents: 10% local match (new)
Over 1 million permanent residents: 15% local match (new)

In addition the caps on the total funding certain applications can receive based on their populations has also changed. In the past it was:

Under 500,000 permanent residents: $1 million in federal assistance
500,000 to 1 million permanent residents: $1.75 million in federal assistance
Over 1 million permanent residents: $2.75 million in federal assistance