1. #1
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    Default Stats on Grant Turndown Ratios & Such

    We know many of you are disappointed in being turned down, and more people will be. We do encourage you though, as many here have, not to call to 'complain' about the grant process to your Congressional leaders as being unfair. We encourage you to offer constructive criticism of how to improve it.

    Most folks posting here are correct, in our opinion, that if you call and bash or blast the process as being unfair, it won't help ensure its continually funded and the funding expanded for. There are things that will be learned from this process, just like there were last year.

    However, we have done some research and determined that the estimated 25-38% award rate for the overall grants program is above average for grant programs in general.

    We've spent hours researching all types of grants from Federal to private, etc., including programs with a few dozen applicants to thousands of applicants. Out of about a dozen programs we reviewed, only one had a higher rate of return (a Minnesota arts program that awarded 8 out of 9 applicants)

    Most large scale programs with hundreds of thousands of applicants had 'funded percentages' of in the range of 2%-20%. Only three hit the 25% mark.

    So while its undertstandable to be disappointed, everyone should realize the significance of the number of departments that will receive funds.

    Also, we've received other emails off the forums asking specific questions about grants and why they may have been turned down. Its important that everyone re-read the grant guidelines and the final rule on what qualified, what was more important, etc. It defenitely appears that, at least amongst those who have been in contact with us, that they completed the application without reviewing either and thus likely lost in part because their project didn't meet the grant's priorities.

    Its also important to keep in mind that the computer grading system took into account multiple factors. If you got a rejection letter for not meeting the computer grading cut, its likely somewhere in your online application you didn't pick things that were listed as priorities (i.e. does XX program benefit firefighter safety, RIT, benefit multiple departments)

    We've pulled together some things that were listed as priorities
    (taken from the FEMA Program Guideance Document). Following these types of guidelines were key to success in the grading process. This is just one category...logon to the site linked below to view the entire document.

    ALL OF THESE FACTORS AND MANY MORE LISTED IN THE DOCUMENT, AND HOW YOU ANSWERED THEM/INCLUDED THEM/DIDN'T INCLUDE THEM IN YOUR APPLICANT IMPACTED YOUR SCORE. If you didn't thoroughly review and study this document before submitting your application, your score was PROBABLY impacted.

    Throughout the process, career departments will be competing against other career departments for up to 45 percent of the available funding. Volunteer and combination departments will compete amongst each other for at least 55 percent of the available funding.

    Fire Operations and Firefighter Safety Program.

    Traning
    ** We believe that more benefit is derived from the direct delivery of training than from the purchase of training materials and equipment. Therefore, applications focused on direct delivery of training, including train-the-trainer initiatives, will receive a higher competitive rating

    ** We also believe that funding of basic firefighting training (i.e., training in basic firefighting duties, awareness, or operating fire apparatus) has greater cost benefit than funding of officer or safety officer training

    ** We will also accord higher rating to applicants seeking to implement statutorily required training rather than non-mandatory or strictly voluntary training.

    ** Training designated for the establishment or maintenance of rapid intervention teams will be afforded a slightly higher rating.

    ** We will rate more highly those proposed programs that benefit the highest percentage of applicable personnel within a fire department or those proposed programs that will be open to other departments in their region

    FITNESS

    ** High priority is given to annual physicals and health screening programs, then to formal fitness and incident rehabilitation programs

    ** Lower priority is given to stress management, illness rehabilitation, and employee assistance programs

    ** We believe the greatest benefit will be realized by supporting new wellness and fitness programs, and therefore, we will accord higher competitive ratings to those applicants lacking wellness/fitness programs over those applicants that already possess a wellness/fitness program

    EQUIPMENT

    ** Because of the obvious benefits, we will also give higher competitive rating to departments that are mainly purchasing firefighting equipment with design features intended to protect the safety of the firefighters

    ** Equipment designated for the establishment or maintenance of a rapid intervention teams will also be afforded a slightly higher rating.

    ** We will also give a higher competitive rating to departments that are purchasing the equipment for the first time as opposed to departments replacing obsolete or substandard equipment (e.g., equipment that does not meet current NFPA and OSHA standards)

    ** For those departments that are replacing obsolete or substandard equipment, the age of the equipment to be replaced will be factored into the score with a higher priority given to older equipment.

    ** CALL VOLUME: Finally, the number of calls that your department responds to in a year will be considered with the higher priority going to departments with higher call volume. Applications will be scored depending on call volume, however due to the inherent differences in call volume for different sized communities, the call volume of rural departments will be compared to other rural departments, suburban departments will be compared to other suburban departments, and urban departments will be compared to other urban departments.


    The entire document of priorities can be found at
    http://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/doc/02prgguide.doc

  2. #2
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    Question Still Questions

    Webteam,
    Thanks for the input but still I can't lie on my application and the only thing I see to count off points for in the "criteria" on my application was replacing 20 year old SCBA's. Would we be better off to trash them so we don't have them then apply?? They aren't new and don't meet NFPA standards but they do hold clean air. Without more specifics I figure it's a waste of my departments time. Would we be better off replacing an Engine that does meet NFPA standards but is also 20 years old??? Just REALLY disappointed to get the axe so soon I guess...doesn't leave any hope for next year!!
    Warning: Persons with Heart Conditions Should Not Board this Ride.

  3. #3
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    Default

    We hear ya....keep in mind there was a lot more to the guidelines than what we posted above. There were alot of things that gave you 'more' points in theory than others. And keep in mind how it would've been compared to other departments of the same type, call volume, fire deaths, etc...lots of factors were involved.

    Not sure what your comments were, if you were replacing SCBA that didn't meet standards, you would be OK, but it all depends how everything compares against everything else.

    We're just trying to encourage folks, based on what we've heard already, that some put in for things that were obvious things that wouldn't get funded, yet they are upset at the process. Had they reviewed the guidelines, they would've known to submit for something else or alter their needs to fit the requirements.

    One thing noted in seminars last year, was departments that put in for things like health club memberships for all their members without justifying the need, or a fully spec'd out new rescue squad to replace a 5-year-old unit, things like that. The computer process may have left off some folks that had legitimate needs and those grants never got 'read' by a person, but its hard to think how long the process would be if all 19,500 were read and judged and compared to the rest, all by indidivuals with different opinions, etc. The computer took certain things into account, and made its comparisons and decisions.

    Our main point was alot of folks seem to be unfamliar with grant programs in general, or took it for granted they would get it, asking why 'career' or 'suburban' departments got money of rural departments. But all of that 'breakdown' was pre-determined going into it and shouldn't come as too much of a shock. When it comes to borderline things like Department 'X' and 'Y' in the same area, same call load, and Department 'X' with more money and Department 'Y' with less, and Department 'X' gets funded, it probably just means that they presented their case better or filled out the application in such a way to be awarded more points. But overall, consider the odds (1 in 4) of getting a grant, the likelihood of being awarded money is greater than a lot of other grant programs.

    The process will certainly be reviewed and all comments taken into consideration just like the first year, but its important not to lash out to your political representatives about it not being 'fair' but rather be a little more constructive so they still support and fund the program over all.


    WebTeam

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    Thumbs up In agreement

    I agree on the "not lashing out". Everyone needs to realize that with time we will get over the "sour grapes".

    I just don't understand where I went wrong.. can't think of how to do it better while at the same time knowing, full well, my "numbers stack up good aginst some that were funded last year. I have even read a few that were funded last year and didn't see anything great about the content compaered to our application. It is also disheartening to go to websites of the some of the "big money winners" and know it wasn't their numbers it was how they filled out an application. Some of them "really look needy that's for sure" HA HA

    The first improvement would be to put a cap on the individual amount so more would get some type of funding those "big ones" eat up the dollars pretty fast.
    Warning: Persons with Heart Conditions Should Not Board this Ride.

  5. #5
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    Thumbs up Excellent Job Webteam

    Excellent job Webteam, I think we all have to remember that while a few departments get funded that we may THINK are not deserving, many many more will receive funds that are truly in need. The worst thing we can do for this program is to start bickering and throwing accusations. I realize there have traditionally been many more opprotunities for federal dollars in the Law Enforcement sector, but as a veteran of numerous grant processes, you should see some of the competition. Most of those grants fund a far small percentage of the applicants, and the application process itself is much more complicated. After you get the grant, there are often all kinds of strings attached just to maintain the grant, and the paperwork trail is a mile long. Several years ago, several large departments were making accusations as to the mismanagement of grants awarded to "fight the war on drugs". You guessed it, the grants which were suppossed to last five years were pulled after three. I think we should support the program, and offer any constructive comments to refine the process for next year. Even if you do not get fundd, you are showing those who count, that the fire service has a very definate need to keep the program going. I for one, would like to see some sort of formula relating the departmental budget (and assests such as savings, cd's etc.) to the population and area served. Many of the grants I have been involved in, have utilized such an approach. It means a little more paperwork, but it tends to weed out those departments who are sitting on a lot of idle funds.
    Joe Fireman

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    Default Re: Stats on Grant Turndown Ratios & Such

    Originally posted by webteam
    Throughout the process, career departments will be competing against other career departments for up to 45 percent of the available funding. Volunteer and combination departments will compete amongst each other for at least 55 percent of the available funding
    Everyone MUST remember that Congress did it's best to fill the needs of ALL departments. The above mandate provides a percentage of funding to each of the two types of departments. So, Vol. departments shouldn't even be considering what Career departments got.

    My $.02 worth!

    Keep up the good work webteam!

  7. #7
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    Default yes, but.....

    Yes, unrelentless bashing of the program is NOT helpful. But I empathize with departments that got/are getting the shaft nonetheless. When we were denied bunker gear and airpacks with high demonstrated need last year, I researched 4 winning applications for "firefighter safety" from wealthy communities in my state. Lo and behold, two of them funded station exhaust systems - one in a very wealthy ski-resort town. I called FEMA and they said that those winners "somehow fell through the cracks", and "such station improvement activities were not fundable in ANY category." Let me empathize however: We have nothing against our brothers and sisters in these departments. We support them and are united as firefighters. This problem is absolutely not their fault.

    Were these the only two out of thousands that fell through the cracks? Doubtful -- our random sample of "4" applications turned up a 50% rate of grants that that funded ineligible activities. And supposedly these were peer reviewed......twice. Excuse me?

    My question is this: How do you/we know (including webteam) that what we found is not representative of the whole program? Grant seekers do not have the information to compare and assess for themselves that the money is going where it's needed. We can only "have faith" that the job is being done correctly.

    No, don't bash the program to your congressional representative; yes, congratulate FEMA on its commitment to the safety of career and volly FF's. But please, for the good of departments that are struggling, DO bring your concerns to their attention in a respectful, and constructive way.

  8. #8
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    Default Spending the Money.....

    I am also a little concerned about the winners that are obviously not spending the awarded funds for what they requested. But let me tell you a little story....

    The other night, I met with our Board of Directors and told them that we had received a grant. I went on to explain what was requested, and how I planned to proceed with the process of obtaining bids and stretching the money as far as I could.

    Well, it didn't long to see the dollar signs floating around in their eyes. They wanted to: 1) use the grant money to pay for "stuff" purchased earlier this year, 2) apply some the money towards a truck we recently purchased, 3) pay for the repair bills on three of our trucks that recently went out of service and are being placed back into service this week, and 4) the ideas just kept coming.....

    Needless to say, I stood my ground, and said that we had demonstrated a need in our grant application, and that need is how we got the funding. I told them that without the grant, the equipment we asked for would not never, ever, be obtained through our measley funding, but that with or without the grant, the trucks would be repaired and certain equipment would be purchased.

    I'm sure I "ticked" off a few of them, but that's nothing new. But I will definetly, most assuredly, use the grant money to fund the items I requested. Anything else, will not be acceptable !!!!
    Grant me the strength to change things I can, accept what I can't, and to know the difference.

  9. #9
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    Default

    Just a question, but is there any research done on the backround information about the companies? I did not fill out our grant application, other members did, but from what I have read in these forums about needs and number of calls and such, does anyone check to see that an applicant is not blatently lying about what they submitted? Could someone BS an application enough to get a higher point total?

    I am not saying anyone did, just wondering what kind of checking goes on with the process.

  10. #10
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    Default Bones...

    I have seen a few different grant apps this year, and I would say that there is definately some questionable responses to the questions, but as with any number, it is a matter of semantics. I dont know how they police them, but I would be embarassed if I got caught.

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