2013 AFG Program: Updated Priorities and Application Tips

The time to have started preparing your 2013 AFG application was yesterday because if you need something today you probably needed it yesterday.

The same situation exists on the vehicle side as the Operations & Safety side, in which departments can do both Individual and Regional Vehicle applications, but there is still no “double-dipping.” This is defined as the same applicant being involved in more than one application for the same items. So, in Operations & Safety a department can’t be in a Regional SCBA grant and then also request SCBA on their Individual. With the Vehicle projects the same rule is in place, but this means that one department can submit for a Pumper and also either host the Regional Aerial or provide their statistics to one without causing any problems. 

Also adding a twist is the same opportunity to apply for multiple vehicles is in place, but again this is when proper project design and common sense have to be used in the decision-making process. I’ve seen it in past years where someone who was a 20% match put in for an Aerial at $1 million ($800,000 federal, $200,000 local), and also included an Ambulance for $150,000 in the same application. This begs the question, if you have $200,000 in cash matching to put towards the Aerial, why do you need $150,000 to buy an Ambulance if you have the money already in the bank for one? The better option is buying the Ambulance and taking $150,000 out of your budget, which actually helps your Financial Need for the Aerial. Then, if you leave the Ambulance out, it isn’t there to hurt your case for the Aerial. This year, of course, if you’ve been reading closely this same department could do an Individual Ambulance application and a Regional Aerial application. 

For those that like to play the “what if?” game, yes, you can put two vehicles within the same Regional Vehicle application just like you can with the Individual application. So, if the need is there for both a Rescue and an Aerial in a Region then they could both technically go within the same application. My personal opinion again is to keep it simple and split them, because remember with Regional Vehicle applications the host department will be the one to own and operate the awarded trucks. If staffing is tight for any type of department, you might be up against Reviewers wondering how both will roll at the same time. The better option is to split these into two separate applications. After all, like I say about every application we work on, some money still beats no money so the lower your request to solve the situation the better your chances. 

The time to have started is yesterday because if you need something today you probably needed it yesterday, so you're already behind on risk assessment and prevention. Let me speak for my colleagues when I tell you not to wait, especially if you are planning on working with an outside grant writer. Most of us don’t sleep much during this busy application period because we try to help as many applicants as we can, but there are so many hours in a day. Now that we’ve broken down the program, start planning and don’t miss your chance at the funding your organization needs.

As we should always do in the fire service, never assume anything. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact AFG staff prior to submitting your application to ensure that you don’t do something that gets your application kicked out before it even gets in the game. Every year this happens for applicants and their opportunity to make an improvement is lost. Check on the Fire Grants website at www.fema.gov/firegrants for your regional program staff contact, or call Helpdesk at 866-274-0960 for more information. Since it’s their sandbox, make sure you’re within the rules at all times. 

BRIAN P. VICKERS, has been in the fire service for 18 years with numerous state and national certifications for Fire, Rescue and EMS disciplines. He is a former Department Training Officer and District Captain, as well as a Chapter Author for Fire and Emergency Services Safety and Survival, Brady Publishing's textbook on the NFFF 16 Life Safety Initiatives (published April 2011). He is CEO of Vickers Consulting Services (VCS), one of the country’s leading public safety consulting firms specializing in strategic financial planning and grants. VCS has helped over 3,500 clients receive over $450 million in grant awards in the last 7 years. Their website is www.vickersconsultingservices.com