An article concerning some of the new funding that my local fire service folks are sending around
How to Get Your Hands on Stimulus Money
By Jerry Brant
An infusion of stimulus money into a 35-year-old federal program may bring new funding opportunities to the
fire service. Under the $787 billion economic stimulus package, an additional $1 billion has been added to this
year's Community Development Block Grant program — and your department could be eligible to apply. This
is a 27 percent increase over the previous year's allocation, according to John Laswick, a Community
Development Specialist with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which administers the
Since 1974, the CDBG program has provided grants to eligible units of general municipal government for a
wide range of activities that facilitate revitalization of local communities. In recent years competition for these
funds has intensified as needs have increased and other sources of funding have diminished. But fire and EMS
departments have successfully accessed the program to assist them in financing a number of qualified projects.
As with other stimulus funds, Laswick said, the federal government wants to put this money to use as quickly as
possible. He said he expects the program announcement to be made late this month or early April. Grantees will
then prepare an action plan amendment; HUD will expedite
the processing of these plans, execute grant agreements and
make the funds available to the grantees. HUD is looking for
eligible projects that can be advertised for bid and be under
contract within 120 days.
Up to 15 percent of CDBG money may be used by
municipalities for public services, which includes fire, police
and EMS as well as areas such as daycare programs and
public health centers. If you are interested in accessing this
funding, you should initiate dialogue with your state, county, or local planning or development agencies without
Because this program is being treated as an amendment to the community's existing action plan, the local
municipality may not be required to hold public hearings on its intended use of these new funds. In other words,
if you don't approach your local government with your new request it may simply develop its CDBG action
plan amendment from leftover projects that could not be funded in the past.
Here's what you should be doing:
Start by determining the amount of increased funding your municipality will receive this year.
Next develop a list of possible initiatives you would like to present for consideration by your local
government. While doing this, please keep in mind the 15 percent limitation on spending for public
services and the 120 day time limitation for securing bids and signing a contract that HUD has imposed.
Then create a short program narrative in letter form. This should include a brief description of the
project, including a schedule of activities, a project budget, and a concise narrative describing the
benefits the community will obtain from your project.
Once completed, promptly deliver this letter to the appropriate person in your municipality in order to be
considered for this opportunity. During this visit, take a minute to inform them about your request and
inquire if your municipality is having a public hearing for the CBDG process. If they are, attend this
meeting and get your request on the public record.
By the end of this process, you should have some idea if your project will be considered for inclusion in
the community’s action plan amendment to HUD.
If this seems like a lot to accomplish in a short period of time, just consider it another normal day in the fire
service. You can't afford to overlook this opportunity because I doubt that we will see anything like it in the
One example of departments benefiting from the program in the past is the DuBois Fire Department in
Pennsylvania. The department protects the city of DuBois, operating out of five stations with 462 volunteer
"Over the years, the department has accessed the CDBG program to purchase new apparatus, to build new fire
stations, and to buy new SCBA," said Mayor Herm Suplizio. The mayor knows first hand the difficulties
volunteer departments have in raising sufficient funds; he is also a member of the DuBois Fire Department and
served as its chief for two years.
The fire department and the city have a policy of replacing one of the department's six engines every five years.
In order to accomplish this objective, a portion of each year's CDBG funds are designated for apparatus
Last year, the department bought a new engine that cost almost $500,000, with the majority of this money
coming from the CDBG program. The mayor says the city has already completed its 2009 CDBG "action plan,"
and included in the proposal is funding for a new ramp at its Third Ward Fire Station. "CDBG has helped us to
do a number of projects that we never would be able to do on our own," Mayor Suplizio said.
Stimulus funding: What you need to know
WASHINGTON — Of the $787 billion economic stimulus bill signed
into law by President Obama this week, hundreds of million of dollars
are earmarked specifically for fire stations and wildland
But fire departments across the nation could also be eligible to apply
for additional funding from the handout, and are being urged to be
proactive to ensure firefighters benefit.
The package includes nearly $8.8 billion in the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund that will be provided to states to address
"high priority needs, such as public safety and other critical services."
Both the IAFF and the IAFC are urging members to champion the fire service and work with their governors and local
government administrations to get access to the funding.
"The fund, which the governors can use at their discretion, with a focus and priority that maintains public safety and
other essential services, is where we are going to have to be ready to act," IAFF President Harold Schaitberger said.
The funding will be distributed at the state level by governors who will have to submit a request to the federal
government stating how the money will be used.
With competition for the money bound to be fierce, the IAFF recommends firefighters:
Know your own situation: budget deficit, layoffs, station or company closures, furloughs, etc.
By Jamie Thompson
FireRescue1 Editor Related Resources:
Fire station, wildland funding included in
approved stimulus plan
Financial Crisis and the Fire Service
Know the amount of stimulus funds earmarked for your
Call key decision-makers to ask for a commitment to
actively work to get access to resources immediately
Call your mayor or city manager
Get to your governor or his staff
Contact your state association and tell them your situation
Put other key, powerful community and business leaders
to work to get funding from all stimulus resources into
your jurisdiction – shoring up the local budget will help
them, as well.
The $210 million that is specifically earmarked for fire station
construction, the IAFC said it expected the AFG office to use a
competitive application process that will be similar to the FIRE and
SAFER grant application process so applications will be fairly and
According to the law, no grant can exceed $15 million, with the application period expected to take place this
The Department of Homeland Security has already developed a concept of operations, which has been sent to general
counsel and senior FEMA staff for approval. It aims to put all necessary processes in place to award all funds by Sept.
The stimulus package also provides for local matching grants for the SAFER program to be waived for the 2009 and
The stimulus bill automatically waives the 10-20-50-70 percent local match requirement for new SAFER grants
awarded during the FY 2009 and FY 2010 application periods.
However, the IAFC said it is important to note the waiver doesn't affect previously awarded SAFER grants.
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03-27-2009, 11:49 AM #1
Something form my local fire reps.
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