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  1. #1
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    Default Dear John,.......

    Has anyone received a Dear John letter yet???
    If so, what were you requesting?

  2. #2
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    Unhappy We were denied

    My volunteer fire dept applied for air packs to replace our 15 year old packs, along with the masks for each firefighter. We were notified that our request wasn't funded. Although the richest paid dept in the area got funded to replace their ten year old air packs.

  3. #3
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    Default Notified?

    How were you notified? The rest of us are still in the dark!



    Thanks

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    Default

    How and When were you notified?
    IACOJ Agitator
    Fightin' Da Man Since '78!

  5. #5
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    Default Sorry to hear that

    MED. Sorry to hear that. I bet you will find a of that happening.
    My buddies and I have had numerous conversations about this subject.
    I guess it just comes down to who can write what the reviewers need to see, or maybe the politics. Not saying your grant writing is bad, but when companies pay a couple of grand to have a "grant writer" do the job, it is hard for us small guys to compete. Heck, I ain't no Shakespere you know what I mean? I really don't know what it is. It would be nice for FEMA to provide feedback or something.
    Again, sorry to hear you didn't get the funding.

    Sincerely,
    Pete

  6. #6
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    Default THOUGHT...

    I imagine after next week this thread will be full of departments that (unfortunately) received the 'Dear John' notice. Let's hope that the extra $300 million will pass through congress and help us all out!

  7. #7
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    Default

    Does anyone know why it is taking FEMA 4 to 5 months to notify the grant applicants? Seems like an very long time. But, one must remember "they are from the government and are here to help us"!!!!

  8. #8
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    Default RE: To Fire Possum's Question

    Fire Possum, had to chuckle at that name.

    The only reason's I can think of is:
    1) Some dept's that are selected may not be able to meet the cost sharing so further dept's will move up at that point.
    2) Federal budgets are setup with the intention that as the money comes in from tax's is when it get's spent. As we pay income tax's the coffers fill and the money can then be spent. Even though the budget for the FIRE ACT is $360 mil - they probably did not get that money in one shot and need to parse it out as avail.

    Good luck!

    John

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    Default Sorry my apoligies

    I am sorry I had a misunderstanding we haven't been notified about our FEMA grant so there is still hope it was another grant we have applied for that we were rejected on. I am sorry to anyone that I have offended. My deepest apoligies.
    Seth Firefighter/ paramedic

  10. #10
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    Default

    Does anyone know why it is taking FEMA 4 to 5 months to notify the grant applicants? Seems like an very long time. But, one must remember "they are from the government and are here to help us"!!!!
    Just from the outside, imagine if they did notify all 5,000 at once? They would be flooded with inquriries and requests on getting the money, notifying Congressional and local leaders, notifying departments, etc. As well as the aforementioned process of verifying departments still could match.

    By releasing a few hundred every two weeks or so, while frustrating for the Departments (including those departments that we are from), its a necessary process. Once the 'No' letters go out soon that should take the burden off some departments not knowing. But even then, unfortunately, some departments will not find out until the bitter end whether they received awards.

  11. #11
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    Default Phone call

    Yesterday I received a phone call telling me that we have been denied with a nice little "better luck next year" quote on the end. Very disappointed. Good luck to all who remain.


    Pete

  12. #12
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    Default Re: RE: To Fire Possum's Question

    While I do not claim to be an expert on the the process, I do feel that the management of applications and the rewards is by far the smoothest I have ever seen. You should see what CDA grants are like.

    If ones are not experienced with grants management they may not appreciate just how complicated and painful most other grants are. As an example, my city broke ground yesterday on a water main project that was applied for five years ago. If that was not bad eneough, each level of government got to take a nice amount for administrative fees. By the time that happens at three levels of government, there is not much left to do the work.

    In the case of the FIRE ACT GRANT, FEMA has established a new grant program, awarded and managed the first year, lobbied for and recieved additional funds, fully developed an on line application process, recruited hundreds of qualified grant reviewers (at no charge) and started to make award announcements. I for one have never seen such a streamlined program.

    I too wait semi-patiently for the phone to ring, but it is nice to see know that our fate is in the hands of people who actually seem qualified.

    Respectfully,

    Lon Squyres
    Jacinto City

  13. #13
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    Default

    Ok, what is the format of the Dear John , i thought it would be electronic, but people are actually getting phone calls? So far havent heard either, so we are keeping everything crossed.

  14. #14
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    Default

    My notification happened as coincidence. I was working with a fella from FEMA about the website and the problems I was having accessing the 1199a form. Bear in mind, this is all happening after I received the email from FEMA telling me to fill out the form, then later being told that I received this letter in error. As we discussed my problems, he mentioned that my app number was not on his list, which, ultimatley, means I was not even in the running. I assume an official letter will soon follow.
    Good luck.

    Pete

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    Unhappy

    Sorry to hear that Pete. All the trouble you were having, even I had my fingers crossed for ya! It's been a week since I sent back the questionaire and haven't recieved anything else from FEMA. I'm still hoping.
    Stay Safe!!!!!

    "Just remember. No matter where you go. There you are!"

  16. #16
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    Default

    I just got off the phone with a friend who is a high ranking muck-e-muck with the USFA and I was told that:

    1) No Dear John letters have gone out yet and won't for at least another week or two. They had a problem with the interface so nothing has been sent. Letters will only be sent to those who didn't pass the peer review process for now.

    2) No phone calls have been made nor will they be made. FEMA does not have the time or manpower to do anything like that. Don't know who's making prank phone calls but someone is trying to pull some legs out there.

    As to all the whining that's going on already he told me a very good comparison: You don't hear the cops whining when they don't get a grant. They have been getting grants for years and know how to play the game. Now it's our turn to play and learn the "How to get Federal Money Game". Crying won't help. Don't bite the hand that feeds you.

    Those who get the money get it because they know how to present their case properly. You have to show need, not greed.

    As for why it's taking so long I was told that they will be announcing the grants every two weeks until the END OF THE YEAR! So we will all be on edge until we are notified of either success or denial (not failure).

    I was also told that there is a good chance that the additional $150 million will be approved and signed by "W" which will provide an additional 2000 or so grants.

    That's why no one has been notified yet since they're really not sure of how much money there will be total.

    Want to make sure you have a chance to get a federal grant? Contact your Congressperson and your Senators NOW and ask them to support the additional funds for this year and the continued funding in years to come.

    Want to try to enhance your opportunity to win a grant? Take a grant writing course. It's the best $ you can spend. It's like the old business adage, "You have to spend money to make money".
    Steve Dragon
    FFII, Fire Instructor II, Fire Officer I, Fire Appartus Driver Operator Certified
    Volunteers are never "off duty".
    http://www.bufd7.org

  17. #17
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    Default Ditto !

    For those who seem to feel that the FEMA grant process is painful or prolonged, you need to look around at other grant programs out there. I have applied for, recieved and been rejected from just about every agency offering money. FEMA is by far the most streamlined process ever. Our city just broke ground on a PW project that was grant funded by CDA five years ago. My last CDBG application was 7 inches thick and required five copies.

    I realize that the majority of small departments like ours are not accustomed to the red tape of grant application and management. It takes a lot of patients and doing your homework. You cannot just jot down that you want a big red fire truck and wait for a check in the mail.

    For those who receive grants, they need to read the paperwork carefully. You cannot call bubba the local fire equipment guy and get him to drop off a bunch of toys. It is all just part of the BUSINESS of running a fire department. If we are not up to speed in those areas I highly recommend that we seek education in this area.

    Funded or not, lets be appreciative for the grant and actively support it in the comming years.

    Respectively

    Lon Squyres

  18. #18
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    Default phone calls

    In reply to this. I had originally received the phone call with denial. After much dismay, I chose to write FEMA telling them that we were disappointed by the phone call, but we would still like the offical Dear John letter. A few hours later, Al Conners USFA emailed me and wanted to know who told me that over the phone. I gave him the guys name and I would be willing to bet someone is getting their butt kicked right now. The original phone callalso told that I was completely out of the running for the rest of the review process. Now I have no idea what the hell is going on. Good, bad, I have no clue.
    In response to crying or whining, well, do you honestly feel that it is right for companies with large budgets and many pcs. of apparatus to receive funds over companies who can't get their engine repaired?
    Honestly, I am not being an ***, but many people have noticed the subject.
    How about this. This year we had 19200 apps and 5500 grants. Let's round this for easy math. 20000 and 5000. Now lets say you satisfy 20000 people over 4 years, then start the process over again. The people who win the year before cant apply again until 4 years later. I would think it is somewhat safe to say that you can live for four years without an expensive upgrade here or there. Hell, we have been waiting for anything for 15 years where I am. Granted situations are different here and there, but for the most part I think it could work.
    Not saying crying and whining is good, but let's be part of the solution not the problem right?
    Hang tight guys, this is a long bumpy road.

    Just my thoughts....

    Pete
    Last edited by PeteLO655; 07-23-2002 at 09:11 PM.

  19. #19
    car120
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    Default WHINING?!?!

    dragon-fyre:

    I see your department got a grant last year. I'm curious if you'd have a different opinion on "whining" if you were turned down?

    This program is one GIANT golden egg for a lot of departments out there that will never see any kind of opportunity for funding like this. I can certainly understand folks being upset (being in the same boat) if they get turned down. Throwing jabs like "Whining" and "Crying?" Whatsup with that?

    Was I upset last year when we got passed over? Yup. What did I do? Like you said - I picked myself up and dusted myself off, and started preparing for this year as soon as we got the "dear john' letter last year. I learned as much as I could about grants and grant writing. I contacted last year's winners and asked for copies of their narratives (varied responses by the way, which is whole other story) to see what worked (P.S. - thanks a bunch to those out there who DID share). I went to two FEMA workshops for this year's grant (and listened INTENTLY w/lots of notes) program. Threw it all together in this year's application and now I'm crossing my fingers like everyone else. Whatever happens I know for sure I gave it my very best shot.

    Will I be upset if we don't make it again? Yup. Why? Mostly because of all the time and effort I put into this (last year AND this year). I did this one by the numbers, I'm not sure what else I could do.

    Sometimes venting (i.e. whining) is good for the soul.

  20. #20
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    Default

    I am willing to put up with the red tape. I was willing to put up with not even being able to get a password that would even allow me to apply for a grant for the first 5 days. I just ask that the process is FAIR to ALL. It isn't. Wasn't the goal to bring all departments up to an acceptable level? One of the first grants awarded is being spent on a Demographic Study and a Mass Media Smoke Alarm Campaign, which includes paying for television and newspaper advertisements, safety message slides in movie theatres, pictorial brochures, and door hangers. (That is per their own web site at http://www.tvfr.com/Fire_Grant.htm). This counutry has men and women running into hazardous situations without proper protective equipment!!!, and we are worried about DOOR HANGERS!!!!!! Yes, prevention IS important, but if you can prevent 95% of all the hazardous situations we face everyday with door hangers, you STILL have to deal with 5% of them. And it only takes one to kill you.

    And a message for dragon-fyre. I am not whinning. I am posting my opinions so that the "experts" on who post here can explain the situation to me. I am listening, and learning. NFPA approved turnout gear, or door hangers. I just do not get it.
    Non Volunteering Volunteer (Retired)

  21. #21
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    Default A Friendly Scenerio

    Just a friendly note to all...don't single out a any Department for receiving funds. That is inappropriate. There are many good projects that will be funded and won't be, for departments with NO budget and a multi-million dollar budget. Singling one out because they got X and your department is still waiting, or didn't, doesn't have any place here.

    There will be winners and losers ... some winners who may not deserve funds over some of the losers, and some losers who deserve to lose. But thats the balance of things when you're talking about 20,000 Departments (2/3 of those in the country) and narrowing it down to a lucky 25% or so. If you don't win one this year, don't bash another Department who did. Find ways to make your presentation of need and impact better next year.

    There are categories for Fire Prevention, EMS, Apparatus, etc. for a reason. A smoke detector purchased in a fire prevention campaign can save a life just as easily as a brand new fire truck or a full set of turnouts. That's why the funds aern't 'just' for apparatus, or 'just' for training.

    How about this scenerio...if you were an evaluator and had to decide between these four options for programs departments couldn't otherwise normally afford, for a $150,000 grant. Remember $150,000 IS ALL YOU CAN GIVE OUT, one GRANT:

    A) A rural volunteer department with 20 members who responds to 3-4 working structural fires a year, 200 calls total, asks for $150K to replace a 1957 front line pumper.

    B) A somewhat suburban volunteer department with 40 members who responds to 1,500 calls annually, and several dozen working structural fires, who asks for $150K to replace all BAs and Gear, because theirs are 10 years old.

    C) A suburban combination department with 40 volunteers and 40 paid firefighters, who will spend $150,000 equipping all of its 35,000 residents with working smoke detectors and an education campaign, in an attempt to reduce the annual fire death rate from 10 a year to less than 3.

    D) An all paid metropolitan department with 500 personnel who seeks $150,000 to provide all of its personnel with trackable PASS devices, suggesting they will significantly increase the odds of tracking a lost firefighter.


    Can you decide? Is your decision because the deparment is similar to yours, or personal experience?

    Now make that decision between 5,000 departments, with $360 million dollars, amongst multiple grant categories and missions.'

  22. #22
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    Default Prevention Awards

    As to the complaint that departments are funded for prevention projects while others still don't have the bare essentials for the job, that is the way that the grant was structured.

    The only way to alter the type of awards is to become active in the legislative process. I would be willing to bet that very few of those complaining even wrote their Senator or House Rep. in support of the grant, much less offer suggestions as to how to use the funding.

    It took yeas of hard work to get this money. Do I agree with every award? Of course not. But I will continue to vocally support the grant program and let my elected officials know that I appreciate their commitment to the fire service.

    On an additional note. While I did not sit as a reviewer and do not know what criteria was used, I do know what keeps some departments from obtaining other grants. Many times it is difficult for a small department to demonstrate that they have the resources to manage the grant if approved. For that reason a large part of my narrative includes our department's experience with grant administration and equipment acquisition. We also provide details as to the financial management of our city and the auditing firm, which handles the city's circular audit. Agencies providing money to applicants need to be sure that the money will be spent in a timely manner and in a way, which meets the criteria of the grant. We also provide information as to the many assurances, which were part of the application.

    Such details assure that an applicant not only deserves the money but that it will be used appropriately and in a responsible fashion. I know of one state grant program that is a joke. They hand out money like it was candy. As an example of the shortcomings of such a program consider one departments plight.

    Applied for and received funding to build a small economical fire station. Nothing fancy just a bare bones place to house the rig. The program required no assurances, no proof that the department could support such a project or that it would even be insured. A month or two after it was constructed (probably by the chief's brother -in-law) it collapsed under a moderate snowfall. Now the money is gone there is no insurance money, and the truck sits outside the collapsed station. But they got the grant!

    Another department came asking for hand held radios. They were informed that the previous year the same request was funded. Their reply was that after the election of officers the old officers kept the radios and left the department. There was no inventory no police report no insurance. No grant!

    These examples may be the exception rather than the rule but perhaps they indicate a need for improvement in the way we do business. By addressing these issues perhaps some department not funded can get money next year.

    Just a friendly suggestion or two.

    Lon Squyres

    PS - Perhaps ones would also benifit by reading a few of the studies published as to the economics of fire prevention. It seems to be a pretty good investment.

  23. #23
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    Default

    Thank you WEBTEAM for your insights. You're correct that it is a tough decision and that no one should be singled out.

    car120: Do you have any idea how many grants I apply for each year and DONT'T get? (FYI, 10-15) You don't see me going to their web sites and moaning. And yes, we did apply again this year. If we dont get it then we learn from our mistakes and reapply next year. I even tried to help other companies learn from our success by letting Rodney Slaughter post our narrative on his grant writing web site.

    My friend at USFA told me yesterday that they know that no matter how much money they give to how many compaines there will always be someone unhappy with the process. I don't know if the police community has a web site like this but I'm sure you won't see this kind of thread if they did. They've learned to play the game which is what we have to do.

    As for large departments winning Fire Prevention grants while others go begging for trucks and gear, the program is set up to pay for both. Winning a FP grant doesn't take any money away from that allotted for trucks or gear. If you don't think they should supply more money for one item and less for another then write to your folks on Capital Hill.

    I'm just afraid that if there is too much discontent show for the program that it will be taken away. Sometimes that's how government works.

    To paraphrase Tom Hanks, "There's no whining in firefighting".
    Last edited by dragonfyre; 07-24-2002 at 09:38 AM.
    Steve Dragon
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    Volunteers are never "off duty".
    http://www.bufd7.org

  24. #24
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    Default Easy

    The tone goes off. Each department responds to a fully engulfed house fire. So far the same for all. Now comes the easy part.

    Give it to "A". Here is why.

    Look at the availability of funding.

    The small departments in the country fight and strive for maybe one or two thousand dollars increased funding each year. One hundred and fifty thousand dollars is more money that they have see in the last 20 years COMBINED. The same amount of money is probably equal to the money the 500 member department pays for the 2 or 3 full time grant writers they keep on staff.

    The tax base for the small departments does not support the purchase of the least expensive, 2 door commercial cab, no optioned fire pumper. The tax base for the larger, multi station departments, with thousands of homes and hundreds or thousands of businesses does support the purchase of the 8 and 10 seat, 4 door, custom cab, highly optioned, chrome plated fire pumper.

    As far as I remember, the fire we were dispatched to at the beginning of this post is the same temperature, the same hazards, the same risks to the people responding.

    So you make the choice. Who's life is more important? The firefighter from the 500 member department, or the one from the small rural department.
    Non Volunteering Volunteer (Retired)

  25. #25
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    Default

    I am sorry if someone thinks I am “whining”. I apologize. I am sorry if I have made some people mad and not played by the rules. I thought this was an open forum to discuss the Fire Act. As a trained Quality Engineer, the only way I know to evaluate a process and determine if is working, like the grant process, is to look at the results, individually. But I will not apologize because a firefighter’s life, any firefighter's life, means a lot to me. I want all of us to go home after each run.

    Hiding behind statements like “that is the way that the grant was structured”, or “that's how government works“ is just that, hiding. As far as I know, our friends in Washington are there for only one reason and they do it very well, and that is to make rules, and as they have shown on several occasions, the people that make the rules can change them anytime they want.

    After last years grant process was finished, I did write to my Congressman, and my Representative, and the President through the Whitehouse web site, and to Mr. Allbaugh himself. Obviously, one voice did not change the process.
    Non Volunteering Volunteer (Retired)

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