1. #1
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    Default What to do when you are turned down

    Got my "you ain't good enough" letter the other day and we are bent out of shape, big time!! Not about being turned down, but about the way FEMA treats people with questions. The idea that everything surrounding your application is a state secret is BS and must be changed. I have notified FEMA and both of the Senators from Md. of my extreme displeasure with how we are treated and I have asked the Senators to come up with changes to the FIRE Act legislation to force FEMA to sit down with each applicant and answer ALL questions about the application and the problems with it. How in the hell can you do better next time if they will not tell you what you did wrong last time. How about it, Ladies and Gentlemen, Join me????
    Last edited by hwoods; 08-20-2002 at 09:33 AM.

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    Fellow Firefighters,

    I guess I'm not the only one thinking about the grant process. At first I felt this was a great opportunity for our dept to get ahead a little. I believed this was a win, win situation no matter the results so I jumped into the process of writing a grant with both feet! We applied for help forming a RIT Program figuring this was the best way in which to create a safer Fire Dept. I was thinking of the guys and what would make it better for us at a working fire. Aside from some new equipment I thought RIT made the most sense. I assumed it would score high. I also assumed that how better to have a safer Fire Service than to make RIT a Priority in 2002. Well I guess alot of my figuring was all for not. After spending 40 plus hours on this and getting our Dear John letter I have to wonder is this the best way to approach the way this money is divided up.

    I honestly believe in theory this is a excellent program. Nothing I know of goes to such lengths to award success and true need. Although as a volunteer dept was this the best use of my time. I mean if we'd been awarded the 57K I'd asked for then my answer would have been YES! But without anything to show for the hours of work what should I think. I'm not heart broken for the simple fact that we ARE a fourtunate dept in m any ways. We do have equipment and we do have manpower. Although would it have been better for me to spend MY time for the dept on Pre-planning or Apparattus Spec or Future Planning.

    I guess I'm wondering if this was the best use of my time and if the Feds should make additional efforts next year to narrow the scope of funding. So perhaps Fellow Firefighter can read 10 questions on the Federal Rule and say, ya we qualify or NO we would be wasting our time. Anyone have any words of wisdom for me.

    P.S.
    Although not all is lost. The energy I found through this program propelled me to convince our Dept. members to undertake fund raising efforts this year to purchase a Thermal Imaging Camera. We are not yet at 100% of funding but we did order our Camera this past week and will place it into service Sept. 1

    Stay Safe!!!
    GB

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    I have just received my turn down notice from FEMA. Even though i am upset that my project, turnout gear and PASS devices, i am still looking forward to next year. Lets remember that this is a new type of grant process for FEMA. And, for being only 2 years ols, i feel they have done the best they can. Granted some things need to change, but, this is a learning process for them as well as it is for us. As far as sitting down and answering questions with every department that applied for funding, that would take an unmentionable amount of time and the process would surely exceed a years time. I'm sure some things willchange next year. I know i'll change some things i did on the application. Learning something new every day. Keep the faith and BE SAFE

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    Question to ffmedic1161

    Didn't you recieve the 1199a & the 5 questions? I swore you did and was a shoe in for funding. I'm sorry you didn't make it.

  5. #5
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    force FEMA to sit down with each applicant and answer ALL questions about the application and the problems with it.
    Let's be realistic. 19,000 applications this year. How long do you want to wait while they meet with each applicant to go over questions?

    How in the hell can you do better next time if they will not tell you what you did wrong last time.
    Not wrong, just not as convincing a case as other departments.

    Good Luck on next year's grant.

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    I agree that we need more feedback but also that it is hard to get that feedback. What I would like to know is whether the field is thinned automatically by certain criteria that could be published--i.e., if x% of your personnel have good PPE, you will not get a grant for it, or if you have any apparatus more than x years old, you will not get a grant for one.

    We would just like to know where we stand. If our situation is such that we don't qualify no matter what our narrative says, then we will apply for something different!

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    At the very least I would like to see our score on the grant. I need to know how we did with each section. For example If we scored high on the budget section, we can use that next year without rewriting it.

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    force FEMA to sit down with each applicant and answer ALL questions about the application and the problems with it
    Obviously you have no idea how a grant process works. Do you realize the manpower it would take to sit down with 10,000 grant applications and hand walk them through why they didn't win? That would probably take more time than to actually award the grants.

    Should you have SOME idea why you didnt make the award, sure. But setting some lofty totally ridiculous goal of having them sit down with you like you're a child and explain what you did 'wrong' is totally off the chart.

    So you didn't make the round, you and 10,000+ other departments. Maybe you should sit back down and re-read the objectives of the grant program, find out what the priorities were, find out what got higher marks vs. other things. Did you read the ENTIRE grant objectives and rules document BEFORE you submitted your grant?

    Im all for knowing what we could do to improve our chances, but you're not helping anyone by being vindictive against FEMA when they have to deal with 19,000 applications. Even in a grant process with a few dozen applicants for some of the smaller charities we've gotten funds from we don't find out why we didn't win necessarily.

    Again, go back and re-read your own application and compare it to the grant program's objectives, and realize you are competing with thousands of other departments just like you, and not everyone can win. Have a chief from a department that one review your application, and your narrative. Did you compare your needs to the priorities of the program? Did your narrative spell out that your needs were directly tied to meeting NFPA or OSHA minimum standards? Heck, post your narrative here and take some constructive criticism.

    Don't blame FEMA and try to push objectives that will only SLOW down the entire process. Your 'demanding' to know non-winning results just shows you are not educated or experienced in how a normal grant process works. Which is fine, but you also have to be reasonable in what to expect when there are 19,000 applications, of which 5,500 will be awarded, in a 7-month period. And then, once they're all awarded, its time to start it all over again.

    Be disappointed. But, be realistic.

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    If this process is administered by congress and interfered with, the probable result will be a 90/10 split 90% admin costs and 10% grant money. if you think you are unhappy now wait until you get a few more fingers in the pie. after last years process alot of questions were answered at fema sponsored grant writing seminars on how to improve and what to do right. I bet this year will have the same results and if you dont attend and ask questions then shame on you. This is like a slot machine with better odds 1 in 3 or 4 will get a grant ill take that chance any day its better than what we all had before NOTHING!
    wellsfr
    We've been doing so much for so long with so little. We can do almost anything with nothing.

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    after last years process alot of questions were answered at fema sponsored grant writing seminars on how to improve and what to do right.
    I agree!
    We were turned down last year, so when one of those workshops/seminars came close by I attended it.
    Luckily I was the only one there that was going to apply this year and I had brought with me a copy of last years application. The Individual who was giving the workshop had been on the peer review panel last year. He actually took the time to look over last years app. Nothing was really "wrong" with it, but some fine tuning and changes to it might help this years application get placed higher on the "stack". I was informed to stick to the program guidelines like glue! Even if we felt that we needed something but if it wasn't specifically in the guidelines, DROP IT! One item on the application that isn't in the guidelines can put you further down on the list. Put together our needs and then when the guidelines came out, change the project accordingly. (we did)

    I was informed that the narrative can make or break if you're "borderline". When they mean brief yet consise, get straight to the point. Don't write 2-3 paragraphs on why you cannot fund the project on your own. "Short and sweet and to the point". They actually read them! You don't need 5 pages of narrative to make your point! When I printed ours, it fit on 1 page. Look at what is in your protection area and put it in your narrative to give them a mental picture of what you have. (grain elevators, churches, schools and # students, major highways etc..)

    I listened, took notes and learned quite a bit. This time we were successful, so the info worked for us. It may not for everyone, but you have to try what you think is the best for you!

    Good Luck to all and Congrats to those awarded so far!

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

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    Default Follow the rules

    In agreement with Bones and Mr. King, FEMA did a pretty good job this year getting the word out and holding the seminars. In the area of vehicles, which was our original request, just by attending we realized that our request was way outside the lines...not even considerable due to the lack of age of the other vehicles we have. Concise and to the point were the keys, as were the scope, NFPA, USFA and OSHA have set priorities, make sure you are adressing one if not all of them, and the use of impact statements followed by brief justifications seems to be helpful. We still are waiting to hear on this years efforts, but we have been successful in other grant initiatives, using basic gudielines. Research the scope of the grant and work within it period.
    Good luck to all.

  12. #12
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    Thank You !! To all who have replied, I have read and digested ( I hope) your comments. My purpose was to get feedback on what I saw as a problem, and I got it. I have attended several seminars and taken other steps to try to get a handle on this and I still feel the same way about FEMA. They need to talk to people, plain english, no governmant doublespeak. If someone files an application, they are entitled to know why they were turned down. As to the mechanics of this, when applications are reviewed, does the reviewer attach notes?? If so why isn't that info provided to the applicant?? I have no fault with the reviewer(whose identity should not be known outside of FEMA) I'll leave it with this - If anyone reading this thread is/was a reviewer and would be willing to look at my submission, let me know. Thank you all, God bless, and Stay Safe....
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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    Default If at first you don't succeed......

    Well, I just got my E-notice from our friends at FEMA informing me that our application for funding could not be funded at this time.
    What do I intend to do about it?
    Simple; try again next year and every year until the odds are finally in my department's favor.
    If I could just figure out a way to get a rescue van funded under "Firefighter Safety"........
    Last edited by ChiefReason; 08-18-2002 at 11:48 PM.

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    Default Oh, I almost forgot.

    Anyone who believes that this selection process is non-political probably still believes in the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.
    One look at the list of "successful" recipients says it all.
    Well, I must sign off and go raise money for my fire department.
    I do believe that funding is a local issue, but as long as the Feds are handing it out, I wouldn't mind getting just a little. Just a little, mind you.
    IMACOJ and proud of it.

  15. #15
    55 Years & Still Rolling
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    Hey, Chief R., Thanks for your comments - wouldn't a rescue vehicle come under firefighter safety ?? After all, the R.I.C. Team needs something to get them and their tools to the job. Stay Safe....
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
    In memory of
    Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

    IACOJ Budget Analyst

    I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.

    www.gdvfd18.com

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    Default lets go on strike like the baseball players and get what we need

    We have been turned down aswell.
    we had the ext thingy to just incase any one was wondering. We had politcal support from two senators and a congressman aswell.
    We applied for a fire boat for the finger lakes area of new york the boat we have now is a 1966 trihaul with only fire extigishers for fire suppersion. We cover 60 % of seneca lake 5 miles of canal and go mutual aid into all the fingerlakes and to canal systems. We have millions of tourist visit our area each year and have 7 marinas , 4 water filtration plants, a fuel depot and a fertilizer depot all in our district and on our waterways. We also have a dive rescue team and assit several local police and sheriff depts in both investigation and rescues.

    I would atleast like to know why we didnt qualify and what we scored
    i dont think they scored any of them seems more like they had a lottery .
    find them hot leave them wet

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    Unhappy Keep on keepin' on

    We got our "ain't filled out good enough" letter today. I like the strike idea... but i guess if you do this job from the heart then we couldn't strike!! Look at it this way though... we didn't get nothing so we don't owe the government anything... especially votes every November!!! Don't re-elect anybody....not even your mother(Bless her heart)It is disheartening though to spend all this time and then, if the truth were told every winner or loser knows a local FD that deserved the money more than some that got money.Maybe next year we should all ask for about a half a million. Until then anyone want a ticket for a BBQ plate?

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    h wood:
    I wish!
    Actually, they created a new category of vehicle this year; the rescue vehicle. But it was still under "Firefighting Vehicles". I honestly thought that we stood a better than average chance this year. Guess I was being overly optimistic. I demonstrated in my narrative the need for firefighters to respond in a van and NOT POVs. There have been too many POV fatalities this year to count, but yet, rescue vans do not score well with the peer review panel. But here's a news flash; I am not giving up. I will be very vocal this year so that hopefully next year there will be grass roots support.
    Until then, congrats to all who won and my heartfelt sympathy to those who lost.
    IMACOJ and proud of it.

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    As some of you have written for a volunteer department, the grant process takes alot of timto research and develop. And to reiceve your refusal letter so early on you just wonder what criteria it is that you are not making the cut. We have applyed both years for a tanker pumper. Our deparment doesn't have a tanker and we have been under water crisis for the last couple years. The first year I even had the proclamation from the govenor of California in regards to the State of Emergency. I felt this would help validate our request along with other letters of support, but I feel that we ain't making it passed the application part and our narative is not getting read. I am very frustrated also to what amounts that I am seeing some of these department recieving. There should be grants given for $600,000 or $750,000. That money could've went along ways, given to smaller requests. And this year they went to electronic filing and it is slower this year than last year with paper. Last year once they started notifying departments, every monday there would be another listing, this year it has been every three weeks. We need to join together to try to get funding to others even if it comes down to if you recieved monies the first 2 years that your not to apply till all other have recieve something.

  20. #20
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    Default DEJA VU All over again !

    When I started this thread, I stated that I had just got my "You ain't good enough" letter (Early Aug.) Following that, I contacted both US Senators and the house members from Maryland as well as FEMA. Apparently someone pulled someone else's chain because yesterday I got an official reply from FEMA ! IT WAS AN EXACT COPY OF THE FIRST LETTER ! which told me nothing that I didn't know already. Does anyone know what is going on at FEMA?? The lights are on, but nobody seems to be awake!!!Stay Safe....
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
    In memory of
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    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

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    I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.

    www.gdvfd18.com

  21. #21
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    After reading the comments on this thread I have a few thoughts....bear with me.

    1. Keep in mind that only about 25% of the applicants will receive a grant. Don't be a sore loser, you're not the only one to get a rejection letter. Review your application and clean it up for next year.

    2. Attend a grant writing seminar if one is offered in your area. We did and we got some good information from someone who is actually going to be reading the grant applications.

    3. Don't bother to enlist the help of your congressperson, and don't bother to send in a dozen "letters of support" from the mayor, the police chief, the dog catcher, etc. At our grant workshop we were informed in no uncertain terms that these would be discarded and not taken into account. Think about it for a minute....FEMA has designed a system (quite wisely, I think) where the success or failure of your application does not depend on whose congressman has the most clout in Washington, but rather on the merit of your request. And this is as judged by a panel of experts in the fire service community, not a bunch of politicians trying to get freebies for "their" district. Let's keep the politicians out of this....this is for US.

    4. We were also informed that if your NEWEST apparatus is less than 20 years old, don't even bother trying for apparatus. So apparatus grants are pretty much reserved for the very neediest departments. If you have fairly new apparatus, best think of something else to apply for.

    5. If you have an unsuccesful grant application, take the time to compare it to some successful ones (lots of them are posted here on Firehouse.com). What do theirs have that yours is lacking? Don't be too proud to take some tips from a winning writer.

    6. Narrative is extremely important. Write a clear, concise narrative and sell yourself. This is where they will really focus their attention.

    7. Make sure you give them all the information they request. A very worthy application with a killer narrative can be sunk before it starts by not providing all the required information.

    8. Be aware that FEMA is making an honest effort to spread the grants around a wide variety of departments.....paid and volunteer, rural and urban, large and small, and in all states. So a neigboring large, metro department didn't neccesarily get thier grant by pulling strings.

    This is the first year my department applies and we have not yet received any word, so we're still waiting. I have, however, written several smaller grants that were successful. Hopefully the experience will pay off with this one. Be open minded when reviewing your own grant to find any areas where it can be improved. And like someone stated earlier, it's just not realistic to expect that FEMA can personally sit down with 15,000 fire departments to explain what's wrong with thier grants. Just resolve to make improvements and try again next year.

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    Guess we're in the same boat. Haven't heard anything one way or the other. We are all waiting with everything crossed and double crossed.
    If we don't get the grant this year will spend our money we've saved up for our 10 percent for needed equipment and try again next year.

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    Question 25% is correct

    I helped 4 departments apply for the grant and so far only one of those four have received the grant. The other three have not heard anything at all ( the good the bad, and the ugly) we are happy to wait, becasue we have been writing grants for five years, and until the FIRE Act came along, we were riding the caot tails of our police department by adding a few things in on their grants that we work mutually on. I think there are several things that need to be improved, and I hope and pray that the FIRE Act will be around long enough to have all the bugs worked out. I have taken several grant classes, and every one of them tells you to get reviewer comments, with what admin cost are for this grant, there should be some type of reviewer comments. The federal register is the bible of federal grants, you must follow it or else face the dear john letter. I feel there should be additional guidelines to be followed also. Like apparatus should have a certain cut off for pricing and age of apparatus. One department I wrote for is currently running a 1957 pumper that was retired in 1978 as thier frontline pumper, (have you ever tried to get parts for a truck that old, with the company that made it has been out of business for twenty years).

    1. Be happy that we have the chance to apply for the grant.

    2. Be happy for the departments that were lucky enough to get awarded the grants, both last year and this year.

    3. Remember those who didn't get funded and pass along what you can. One mans junk is another mans treasure.

    4. We are all brothers and sisters, we will have our fights, but we take care of each other.

    5. Don't give up, don't ever give up.

    Keep your fingers crossed and wish for the best. Stay safe

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