1. #1
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    Default E-FEMA system a total flop

    I have been unable to access the system for two days now. A call to the FEMA/USFA help line reveals that the system is hopelessly overloaded and the submission deadline has been extended to accomodate.

    How has everyone else been making out with the system of the future.
    The above is MY OPINION only and not that of anyone else. I am not representing any organization in making a post here!!!!

  2. #2
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    Unhappy WELL.................

    We're just a guilty as the rest of the 1000's of companys that waited til the last possible week/day/hour to get our application into the system so it really comes as no suprise to me that an overload of their site has occurred. Of course it was only strongly suggested that you file electronically , you still had the option to file by regular mail but were given less time to complete your app.. That being said it is as usual the fault of both sides since they should have realized that there would be even more apps than last year(more than triple the money available over last year) and their site would get overloaded since the same thing happened last year with everyone getting their apps in at the last minute(12k to 15k apps on the last day I believe), but we as those who were applying for the grants also should have realized that this would happened since it happened last year but neither side has learned. hopefully they might extend the deadline for those of us last minute filers.


    ooopppppps just saw that they did extend it til the 5th of April @5pm
    Last edited by demon641; 03-26-2002 at 11:44 PM.

  3. #3
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    Default

    I think the system works perfectly. As long as you log on a 2 in the morning. Fill ever thing out three times, it will eventually take one of them and after only logging you out 71 times. At least that is my experience.

  4. #4
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    Default System still down

    Despite assurances last night that the system would be up and running by 8 this a.m., its still down.

    All I need to do is paste my narrative and I'm done. aaarrggggh!

    I call the helpline to get an update and get no answer, forwarded into voicemail and then told voicemail is full!!!!


    FEMA/USFA blew this one.
    The above is MY OPINION only and not that of anyone else. I am not representing any organization in making a post here!!!!

  5. #5
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    Talking

    To be brand new the system works ok i think. Ya'll have to agree it is better than paper. I think, given time, the process will be great. We just have to hope there is a grant to apply for next year!!
    This is my personal opinion....not my departments. I hope ya'll like it

  6. #6
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    Oh come on! If you'd simply dedicate a few days of every minute or so from 6 am til 3 am of hitting send or continue, eventually it wil go through. I've been able to log on religiously every 2 to 3 hours as long as I try 50 to 60 times an hour and always retype the password the site says is invalid. Take it on like a fire!

    If you'd read the site it tells you it is not down for more than an hour at a time,

    Here I'll post what it says:
    "Due to the popularity of FEMA's 2002 Assistance to Firefighters grant program, the volume of electronic traffic to the site has caused some access problems. A number of applicants, as a result, have had difficulty completing their on-line forms. We anticipate that steps we are now taking to improve the system will allow everyone to finish their form on time; however, FEMA and USFA are extending the application deadline as an added precaution. "

    however you might not be able to get on for 3 to 8 hours at a time, it doesn;t mean the system isn't working very well! The system is perfect, just more than 5 departments decided to use it this year.

    See they are only having "SOME" problems, no biggie. Their post is quite clear it is our fault.

    Try logging in right now together, see it is easy,

    Proxy Error
    The proxy server received an invalid response from an upstream server.
    The proxy server could not handle the request POST /sacsWeb/dynamic/SacsMaster.jsp.

    Reason: Could not connect to remote machine: Unknown error

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Oracle HTTP Server Powered by Apache/1.3.19 Server at mwdz2w5 Port 443


    See you couldn't get that message if the system didn't work, geesh! You cannot blame them for an unknown error!

    Now hit back and retype your password

    Proxy Error
    The proxy server received an invalid response from an upstream server.
    The proxy server could not handle the request POST /sacsWeb/dynamic/SacsMaster.jsp.

    Reason: Could not connect to remote machine: Unknown error

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Oracle HTTP Server Powered by Apache/1.3.19 Server at mwdz2w5 Port 443

    See it works! It is not like it isn't going somewhere.

    If you hit forgot password it will take you to:

    Proxy Error
    The proxy server received an invalid response from an upstream server.
    The proxy server could not handle the request GET /sacsWeb/dynamic/SacsMaster.jsp.

    Reason: Could not connect to remote machine: Unknown error

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Oracle HTTP Server Powered by Apache/1.3.19 Server at mwdz2w5 Port 443

    See every bar takes you somewhere.

    Hit new user:

    Proxy Error
    The proxy server received an invalid response from an upstream server.
    The proxy server could not handle the request POST /sacsWeb/dynamic/SacsMaster.jsp.

    Reason: Could not connect to remote machine: Unknown error

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Oracle HTTP Server Powered by Apache/1.3.19 Server at mwdz2w5 Port 443

    Simply open up 30 pages to their site, cut and pastte your password and hit send, eventually in the 2 to 3 hour period one will go through. Fill out whatever it asks, but cut and paste all that data to, because every 7 to 10 times it won't take it.

    Eventually one of the others will give up or be logged out which only happens 3 to 4 times an hour and that will be your chance it you are persistant!

    It isn't really that hard. If you read the site it is quite clear, "reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to range from 10 minutes to 9.7 hours per response" It is just averages, maybe all the 1o minute slots are used up, so yo should be done in 9.7 hours or so. They won't ell you which 9.7 hours though, just stay logged on if you can. Take a week off and sit in front of the computer and get it handled.

    The system doesn't work, of course it does, the grant amounts should be higher this year via natural selection only the strong survive don't be such a pansy
    Last edited by Mike C; 03-27-2002 at 02:46 PM.

  7. #7
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    Firehouse.com would like to post a story this week regarding the trouble users are having with the grant application website. If you are willing to comment about your experience, whether it has been good or bad, please email news@firehouse.com with your contact information so that we may contact you Wednesday or Thursday. Thanks!

    Heather Caspi
    Firehouse.Com News

  8. #8
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    Talking WELL again...............

    if everyone who are having problems and can't be patient with the system as overloaded with all of us who have waited til the last couple of days(now extended 5 more days) would care to listen then I have come up with a great solution.

    Forget about the grant program altogether since if you do get a grant you'll probably end up complaining that you won't get your money fast enough. Take your dept. out of the running now and then it would be that much easier for everyone else who understands(dosen't really like it but.......) and is willing to be a little more pateint than your are to get a grant and maybe they will give us a lot more than we want since there are so few depts. applying for grants.

    In closing stop your constant whining about everything that comes down the road that isn't to your liking in your perfect world where everything goes exactly as you are told it will be or as you tell everyone it will be.

    If we maybe did alot less complaining about things that can't be changed or anything done about and started to complain about things that can be changed and looked for solutions to the problems instead of just finding fault in things then maybe we might find changing things and getting what we want and need for the fire/rescue/EMS fields will be a little bit easier.

    oh and as of the end of this writing(7:25 EST) I have been logged into the fema site for over an hour on the first try to get in.......I will be logging out to let all of the other depts out there who can only get in after being kicked out and trying for several hours or every 7 out of 10 times...........again good luck to all those that apply
    Last edited by demon641; 03-27-2002 at 07:19 PM.

  9. #9
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    Default

    Demon641 is right. Everyone who is complaining now will only complain even louder when they either don't get their grant or don't receive their money until next year.

    Yes, it is a two year payout on a one year application program and if you don't get your money by September you won't see it until next year.

    After last year's program this and other forums where filled with people whining that they didn't win and it looks like it will happen again.

    Everyone knew this was coming and should have been prepared, had the narrative written, total figures done, etc. The only surprises this year are the additional information they requested like the number of runs. Our application was submitted within the first week and was one of the first 600 in.

    I don't think it would matter how FEMA does the grant process someone'e always going to be unhappy.
    Steve Dragon
    FFII, Fire Instructor II, Fire Officer I, Fire Appartus Driver Operator Certified
    Volunteers are never "off duty".
    http://www.bufd7.org

  10. #10
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    Hey Dragon-frye,I agree with everyone who posted about the slowness of the system.I got kicked off about 10 times one day last week.Again I won't you to be sure I'm not whinning.I wish I had the time to try to log in every mintue till I could get in.One thing we need to remember is we lost a week before the system was up and running.
    Again I'm just thankful we have the chance to apply for grant money for the fire departmnets.Just today in our local paper the Police departmment announced a grant for PC in every cruiser.We don't even have a PC that works in the station.Now to whine a little,I sure hope we get a grant so we can quit "WHINNING"

  11. #11
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    Default

    I haven't had that difficult of a time with it. Sure it has been slow at times and there have been times I wasn't able to get on at all but no big deal it was to be expected. I wasn't able to get on at all the first day. The second day I got signed up and printed out all of the forms. Much of the information required was the same as last year and I entered it at that time. I gathered the information for the new stuff and after logging on a couple of more times, I had at that point completed everything but the narrative. I called the help desk twice and my calls were answered both times in 2 - 3 rings. Both times the people were very knowledgeable and informative. Altogether, I think I logged on 5 times. Our application was submitted Monday morning. I found the entire process to be much simpler and less complicated than the paper application last year.

  12. #12
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    I had good luck with the system pretty much all the way through. there were a couple of bugs along the way but I always found the help desk very friendly and helpful. of course I've been working since the system opened and patiently worked through the bugs along the way. I struggle to find sympathy for those who wait til the last minute on something this important. I will gratefully look past the problems found in this years program in the hopes I can see an improved version next year. It's not a sure thing in light of the tightening budget picture congress is faced with. In the end the complainers will all be given the time to get their application in, the evaluation process will begin and life will go on. I can only hope the message congress receives is not one of bitterness, but thanks. I've taken steps to thank my representatives...Have you?

  13. #13
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    Default Make mine cheddar!

    Come on now no_name_FF. Sure it has been a little tough sometimes to get on but honestly "can I get you a little cheese to go with that whine" Ayermedic

  14. #14
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    I guess I was lucky...only had a problem logging onto the site one time...and the next day it was fine. Filled it out, finished it off, and submitted it yesterday.
    Stay Safe.
    You asked for my opinion, now you have it. Any similarity to another opinion, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

  15. #15
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    Question No Problem

    Sheeeeesh..... May be I'm in the minority here. I logged on to the system Sunday Am at about 10:30 and was done with the whole thing by 11:15. Really couldn't have been much simpler, even for an old Dino to the electronic age like me! I certainly think it will even out the playing field a little bit. The applications will all look the same and hopefully be considered on merits alone, not on a fancy cover page and lots of glitzy additions from a paid grant writer.

  16. #16
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    Here I go again,I agree with the last post.I wish they would change the rules where a paid grant writer was not even allowed.Departments like ours are left out in the cold.Use the department personnel to fill out the application.This is about as as simple as it comes.Now they have got the server where more that than "10"(?) at a time can log in,I think just maybe we will get ours entered.I know last week one day I give up and all I wanted to do was to print our application to check for mistakes.Someone wrote an article about the fire service last year waiting for the last minute to send in the paper appplication , will be no different on next Friday , so we better try to spread out through the week.Just how many of us are waiting in the woods for a fire to start?I know even when we had a fire bug(aronist)(?)on the loose we didn't wait at the station for a tone drop,so why are we any different to transmitt these applications until Friday?

  17. #17
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    Originally posted by dragon-fyre
    Yes, it is a two year payout on a one year application program and if you don't get your money by September you won't see it until next year.
    Not true. The new "Federal Year" starts Oct. 1. So if you don't get $$ by Sept., you will get them after Oct. 1. Also, none of the $$ are 2003 budget money, its all 2002, just some is "supplemental" making it available after Sept.
    Originally posted by dragon-fyre

    Everyone knew this was coming and should have been prepared, had the narrative written, total figures done, etc. The only surprises this year are the additional information they requested like the number of runs. Our application was submitted within the first week and was one of the first 600 in.
    I don't know how anyone could have had it all done before the grant period opened. They didn't release the rules until March 1. Unless you were psychic....

    Originally posted by dragon-fyre
    I don't think it would matter how FEMA does the grant process someone'e always going to be unhappy.
    I like the new system. But they should have tried it out on a smaller grant first...
    The above is MY OPINION only and not that of anyone else. I am not representing any organization in making a post here!!!!

  18. #18
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    Default What about next year......

    If Bush's budget gets passed and FEMA is handing out 3.5 billion, how will the system hold up?

    Remember, it won't be just 20,000 or so FD's, it will be open to all local EMS, Fire, Police and OEM. 75% of the $$ are slated to go to the locals.....
    The above is MY OPINION only and not that of anyone else. I am not representing any organization in making a post here!!!!

  19. #19
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    Now that it's over. I can honestly say that the electric set up worked pretty good for the most part. Delays that I encountered were too many folks that perhaps waited to the last minute to apply but all in all I prefer this to the paper system and liked that the system held my application online so I could revisit and work on it as i went along. We were #6716 so we got in early enough i suppose to aviod the mad rush at the end. The Chief

  20. #20
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    Thumbs up E-Grant

    I submitted the grant for our department.

    I thought the site was extremely well done. Were there some times when it was down and/or slow? Yup. But these were few and far between for me. I tended to use it early in the morning or late at night...what I thought to be "off-peak" hours. I also understand that database maintenance is a reality, and that there were bound to be some minor problems to deal with as this program is new.

    I think it is a vast improvement over paper-submitted applications. I agree that it does level the playing field for everyone. I'd hope that this format continues and perhaps expands.

    I did have a problem with my account, but I was the one who messed it up. While trying to issue a password to a sub-account, I accidentally changed my "master account" to a sub-account, then I stupidly cancelled my sub-account. When that happened, it locked me out of the system.

    I called the help line. The phone was answered on the second ring. I gave my caller and department information. Then I described my problem. While the technician couldn't fix my problem, he understood what I did and connected me with his supervisor. I explained the problem to the supervisor and she said she would contact the database maintenance engineers to see if the account could be reactivated.

    24 hours later I was back in business, with no loss of information. I was quite happy with the customer service I recieved.

    Waiting until the last minute to log-in, fill-in, and submit surely doens't help the system. But I'm sure that the next round will go much smoother for those of you that had problems.

    All-in-all, I say job well done to FEMA and USFA.

  21. #21
    car120
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    Thumbs up

    I agree with Resq14's comments about the e-application system. Yes there were problems - I went three days toward the end without being able to log on myself. But, by that point the application was complete and all that was left was some fine tuning of the narrative. FEMA/USFA did the right thing and extended the deadline to address the overload, so in the end everything turned out all right for our application (and by the looks of what I've read here and there so far, about 10,000 more between April 1st and 5th too).

    During the whole month process, I contacted the help desk by both phone and e-mail with various questions. The folks who answered the phone were great and e-mails were replied to within a few hours. By the end of the month I'm sure these guys were working their butts off. My hat's off to them. My customer service was top-notch.

    One glitch I ran into, about mid-March, was that some information I entered in our application would save in the short term but would disappear by the next day. I called the help desk about the problem. I was recontacted both telephonically and by e-mail by a member (I'll avoid the use of a name in this format) of the technical development team about the problem. This guy was just great. To be sure I could get a hold of him later, he gave me not only his office number, but also his PERSONAL cell phone number! Would you do that for a complete stranger? The problem was fixed within a day, and the rest of the process was glitch free.

    I read some comments that FEMA/USFA should have been better prepared or expected this program to be this popular and designed a better system to handle it. If you followed the ups and downs and the uncertainty of the funding for this program over the last year, by the time the money was 100% confirmed, it didn't give them much time (a little over a month) to get this e-file system together. Common sense really - if there's no FIRE ACT money, there's no sense designing and implimenting an on-line system.

    What's the best thing about the online application? My application and a paid grant writer's look exactly the same! Everybody's equal. What's going to make or break you is your answers to the non-narrative portions of the application.

    And remember, there's fellow fire service folks that are doing the reviews. They're going to be able to tell right off if a grant writer or a firefighter wrote that application!

    Best of luck to everyone who applied, I'll join the ranks of the 20,000 plus crossed fingers and toes! Stay safe!

  22. #22
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    Default FEMA Electronic Filing

    I had no problems using the electronic filing system for the FEMA grants and I signed one numerous times right up until April 3rd. Also found the electonic help desk provided rapid responses to questions, often within a hour or two. Lots of things happen when numerous people try to use the system at once, especially when the deadline is only a few days away. FEMA was honest about their problems, fixed them as best they could undere the circumstances, and was helpful when you had problems. Can't ask for more than that.

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