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    Thumbs up Grant News

    Hey Webteam, do you guys have any information about how the Peer Review process is going? Surely you have someone snooping around up there in Maryland. It's been a week now and we haven't heard anything. Any information such as, "Are they going to be done in the two weeks they had hoped or is it going to take three?", "How were the requests broken down in catagories and dollars?", "When do they expect the first award notices to go out?" and the big one "When will the Dear John letters go out? Any information would be helpfull. Thanks for all your hardwork.

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    Check the USFA web site, www.usfa.fema.gov.

    They just posted the breakdown by department type, category, classification, etc. If you follow the link on the front page near the bottom, on the second page it will have another link to another page with more of a breakdown and a PowerPoint presentation that you can download.

    One interesting fact I found: according to the rules, approximately 52% of the money has to go to fully paid/career departments. Which works out to about $370 million. The requests by those departments only totaled just shy of $278 million. So either all of those applications will get awarded by default, or more money will be floating in the combo/all vollie column. I think the extra bucks should come across the line, but being as it's a federal program, I don't know how that will play out.

    They still expect peer review to be fully completed in 3 weeks. more power to them. Of course that tells me that they'll have all of the answers up front, but they're only going to make announcements twice a month so that we'll be strung out again.

    Good luck all, and hang in there.

    Brian
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    This e-mail just came today from FEMA.

    FEMA and the USFA Announce 2003 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Application Preliminary Data

    WASHINGTON DC - The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the
    United State Fire Administration (USFA) have received approximately 19,950 applications for the 2003 Assistance to Firefighters Grant program. The total request of all departments, including the non-federal share, is around $2.5 billion.

    For the 2003 program, Congress appropriated, and President
    Bush signed into law, $750 million in direct assistance in support of the nation's firefighters and the services they deliver.
    "Through President Bush's leadership, there is twice as much money this year to help firefighters respond to all types of emergencies-from the common to the complex," said Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response. "Making sure firefighters have the proper equipment, resources, training and community support to safely respond to emergencies is critical to helping us meet our mission to
    better secure the homeland."

    The USFA Grants Program office staff has completed their early review of applications and the peer review panels began the week of April 21, 2003. The peer review panels are expected to take three weeks to complete the entire review of applications. DHS, FEMA and the USFA look forward to making the first award announcement in early June.
    "Fire service personnel have once again come together to identify the
    necessary equipment and resources they need to better serve their
    communities," said R. David Paulison, USFA Administrator. "Although we had a one week delay at the beginning of the application process, it now appears we will be making our first announcements almost a month ahead of the 2002 program. This positive pace is due to the efforts of the Nation's firefighters."

    A complete state-by-state listing of applications, financial information and known data from the fire service requests can be found at www.usfa.fema.gov/inside-usfa/03requests.cfm

    For the most current information regarding the 2003 Assistance to
    Firefighter Grant Program, visit www.usfa.fema.gov or enroll in the USFA email distribution list serve for the most current news releases from the USFA.

    USFA is a part of FEMA. Both USFA and FEMA are a part of the Department of Homeland Security
    Last edited by dragonfyre; 04-29-2003 at 09:08 PM.
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    Originally posted by BC79er

    One interesting fact I found: according to the rules, approximately 52% of the money has to go to fully paid/career departments. Which works out to about $370 million. The requests by those departments only totaled just shy of $278 million. So either all of those applications will get awarded by default, or more money will be floating in the combo/all vollie column. I think the extra bucks should come across the line, but being as it's a federal program, I don't know how that will play out.

    Really?

    52% of the money goes to 9% of the requests?

    Where did you find this at Brian?

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    It was in the rules last year but its not this year. The rule on the split between paid/career has changed:

    (4) We will ensure that fire departments with volunteer staff, or
    staff comprised of a combination of career fire fighters and volunteers, receive a proportion of the total grant funding that is not less than the proportion of the United States population that those firefighting departments protect.

    The minimum funding has shifted towards vollie/combo departments. In English, this rule states that no less than approximately 48% of the money must go to vollie/combo departments, because that is the percentage of the population protected by those types. ~52% of the population is protected by paid/career departments. The actual percentages are probably different, but they're close to those numbers going on last year's feedback.

    I thought that the funding minimums for each were set, meaning that 52% had to go to paid depts. If that were the case, then since only $278mil was applied for out of the $370mil (~52%), leaving $92mil unaccounted for in that section, then there theoretically would have been money that "couldn't" have been moved over to vollie/combo. That's not the case since the rule changed from 2002, so ignore the previous post. So all of the career/paid applications are NOT going to be awarded as previously speculated. My apologies for the confusion. Technically, if they didn't write them well enough, no paid dept awards could be given, but I doubt that will happen.

    Again, sorry for the confusion.

    Brian

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    The 2003 Program guidence says that 46% will go to Career Depts and 54% will go to Vollie/Combo Depts. I hope this is true.

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    Question Who did the math?

    Has anyone verified the stats given on the number of applications received? I ran the numbers, and I don't think I used the same formula as FEMA did.

    They reported that 53% of the 19,948 applications were for Ops and Safety. My numbers show 68.9% (13759/19948 = 0.6897)

    They reported that 1% of the 19,948 applications were for Fire Prevention. My numbers show 2% (422/19948 = 0.0212)

    They reported that 45% of the 19,948 applications were for FF Vehicles. My numbers show 27.8% (5554/19948 = 0.2784)

    Our numbers jived on the EMS category.

    What's up with this? Makes me wonder how they calculate other information, like stuff that really matters.
    Grant me the strength to change things I can, accept what I can't, and to know the difference.

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    Thanks for keeping us updated ttjjss1 (as long as you are not sitting in a dark room somewhere in the middle of the wilderness just having a good laugh at those who believe you)

    If 6500 didn't make it past the computer grading, how much $$$ does that represent?
    IACOJ Agitator
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    There were approximately 6500 grant apps that didnt make it through the first computer grading. that leaves about 13500 left for us .


    You stated "the first computer grading" does this mean that they will run the apps. again with more stringent paramenters than the first run, to eliminate more departments. Thanks for the info, and keep the updates coming.

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    The computer grading is the one that checks how many people you serve, how many members, how many vehicles of the type you're applying for etc, etc. Basically a statistical analysis of the applications. The peer review looks at that stuff again, but mostly the peer review is dealing with the narrative.

    It is going fairly fast this week, it has amazed me how bad many of the grant apps are, Come on guys , read the instructions!!!!! Simple instructions are not being followed and it is hurting many departments chances. DETAILS DETAILS.......
    I think a lot of us that were successful last year were trying to help by pointing this out after last year's awards. Any app that did not follow instructions usually gets tossed out in the computer scoring. 6500 it looks like this year. It was about the same last year by an estimate that I saw.

    I was wondering about the money split myself, 277,000,000 applied for by Carreer depts with 45 percent available, 337,500,000, that leaves a big spread. I will ask about that tomorrow.
    45% is the maximum amount of money that can go towards career. Reading the offical rule passed into law (03-grant-fr.pdf), which is where I copied and pasted that text from in the previous post of mine, 55% HAS to go to vollie/combo depts, but more CAN if there isn't enough demand from career depts, which is the current situation. I'm not surprised to see it going by last year's breakdown. There weren't too many more $$ asked for in career than were available, because last year specified exact %'s for each type, no more, no less.


    Anywho, keep the fingers crossed.

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    Thumbs up Thanks for the information

    Nice to have somebody on the "inside". Makes all of us think something is really going on!

    Thanks for taking the time to keep us updated.
    NCVFC17

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    Tyler,
    Thanks for your input on this process. Will preface my questions by saying please don't violate any confidential agreements.
    1 - What was the process for getting picked to be a peer reviewer?
    2 - What can you tell us as far as the general reasons for folks failing the process. What were some general reasons that departments did not make the first computer cut and then the peer review cut.
    3 - What were your peers on the peer review panel? Volunteers? Paid? Combo? Officers? FireFighters? etc.
    I look forward to your further insights.
    Malcolm Cunningham
    Fire Chief - Hardin FPD
    Hardin, MO

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    Default When will the Dear John Letters go out???

    Tyler,

    Thanks for all the great info. Glad you could attend this review. It made a big difference for me to hear words or wisdom from a firefighter.

    My question is did anyone ask when the Dear Johns would go out. Does any one really know yet or do they need to tally the overall scored list?

    Thanks
    GB

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    Thumbs up

    ttjjss1
    Thanks for taking the time to keep us posted. As you must have a busy schedule while you are there, you cared enough to keep us " hungry for information brothers and sisters " informed.It truely means alot.

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    Tyler - Thanks for the info. It should definitely help a lot of people. I know the biggest problem many had with this process is that there was no feedback about how everything worked, how the scoring was done, etc. I understand and most should that there's a certain amount that can't be made public but your comments about what you saw will definitely help many for next year.

    By the way, sorry about the 4 page narrative. I couldn't cut much out without losing the major points. That's why I had several teachers read it for me, including a history teacher that spends most of his time grading essays. I've been writing computer code for too long, because after he got done with the first draft I was wondering how I ever passed English in high school. The infamous red marker returned.

    Good luck y'all, and hang in there. Sounds like we've only got a couple more weeks to go until the money ball starts rolling.

    Brian
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    Smile More Input Please

    Tyler,

    Can you answer any of these questions.

    After all the applications have been graded, do they award those with 300 points first and work down until the money is gone?

    Did it help any at all to have our application in early?

    What decides which applications are awarded in the first round?

    Thanks

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    Thanks Tyler!

    Your info is helpful. My application was in the 3XX range.

    Good Luck, Stay Safe

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    Hello again guys
    I have deleted all of my replys on this thread.
    It seems that I may not have been clear in some of my comments and some people may misunderstand my meaning. I never meant for people to assume anything when I posted the comments. I want to appologize to the Fire Act Grant folks if anything I may have posted could possibly be detremental to the program. My intent was to try and help as many departments out as I possibly could by letting them know that this is not a "Big brother" program and that firefighters and others like you and I ARE this program.
    I strongly recommend everyone try to go and be an evaluator, It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.
    Everyone just needs to stay patient and take the news as it comes. The team that is processing this is small but they are getting more and more efficient and experienced as each day goes by. They are doing the work of thousands with just a few excellent people. Keep up the great work up there guys!
    This is a great program and we all need to get more departments involved so we can keep our numbers up and not chance having OUR program cut.
    Again, I offer my appology if anything I have posted offended anyone or made people assume things that arent fact.
    Tyler

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    More departments? Theres not enough money as it is, why would you want to involve departments that don't want to be involved. The departments that are located in cities and towns that are in debt can get whatever they want, thats BS...that a small department that is located in a place where the people in charge know how to spend their money can't get a grant for anything...

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    I think what Tyler means is that if you don't apply, it means you don't need the money. That's the message I get from someone that complains that they're not going to win so why bother. You don't know unless you try. And how much effort did it actually take to put in an application? 4 hours? 6? 10? This really isn't a tough or time consuming process, you just have to follow the rules. That's why it's a GRANT program, not WELFARE. Yes you have to demonstrate need, and you may well have it, but let's face it, most of the departments that need the money are in areas that don't have fires. Even when I ran up north, one of mutual aid departments answered 13 calls in 10 months. When you line that up against someone that needs the same thing as you, I think the department that runs 100 calls a month needs it more. As I said in an earlier post when someone bitched about people winning quints, that aerial will probably save more lives in one month than some departments will in 5 years. So who really needed the money more? This is about helping departments to save lives, as many as possible. So that's why departments that protect more people have a better chance of winning: because they have a better chance of having a major incident and major life loss!

    Besides, look at it another way: if you couldn't figure out how to fill out a simple application and follow the rules, how can you expect the reviewers to think that you're really asking for what you need? Obviously 6500 applications couldn't even make it to peer review because they were asking for the wrong thing, from the wrong people, or just plain filled out wrong. What kind of message does that send about someone's ability to follow simple rules, or if their request is really what's needed?

    If the program goes away, then there's going to be no help for anyone, and those of you that are hurting are going to still be hurting, and have no hope of ever changing your situation. The longer the program goes on, the more people will be helped. And back to the response thing, some departments will see more fire than some will see in the next two years. Does that mean I will agree with every award? No, I didn't agree with Houston getting $750K for exercise equipment, but one of the rules is the split in monies between vollie, combo/vollie & career, so rural departments needing gear weren't competing against them anyway. I think one of Tyler's other points was you can't really judge a system or it's rules until you've been on the other side. Which is actually one of those rules we all should have learned in Kindergarten: "never judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes." And unless you've been on the side of the table that he has, I think you can keep your comments about how unfair the system is, and what a crock the awards are, to yourself. I haven't been there either, but any program is better than no program. That you can't argue with.

    But I agree, if you have no genuine need, don't make one up just to get 90% off. And if you get something new, donate down the line, don't sell it. Let the generousity trickle down.

    Stay safe, and keep the faith.

    Brian

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    Default I agree

    I can't understand why people are bashing this program.... A department has to justify a NEED not a WANT for this program to be successful to them.... If you have applied since the beginning and have been unsuccessful then why get mad try again next year... Its like the lottery "You can't win if you don't play". We are 0 for 2 but we apply every year hoping that each year will be our year. I think Tyler has done an excellent job in keeping us informed with updates of what is going on behind the doors that no one can see at the office. Remember there is 6500 applications unsuccessful becuase of mistakes that disqualified them... THEREFORE, 19 thousand and some change - 6500 leaves 13 and some change to be processed. There is 750 Mil available to us between paid and vol depts so don't give your hopes up until the program is complete for 2003. They are working as hard and as quickly as possible to start awarding the grants.

    In my opinion quit bashing this program it is there to help and every penny we get helps alot. If you are not successful this year then if next year it becomes available again try to apply again and learn from your mistakes that you saw after the submit button was pressed.

    Be Careful and Stay Safe

    John Betner
    Custer Fire & Rescue Dept.

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    Thumbs up The Grant Program Works

    I have just returned from the National Fire Academy, where I spent last week serving as an evaluator on the peer review panel. I have to say that I am quite shocked to see the outcry of people who have no idea as to what goes into the grant process or how one might get selected to receive a grant.

    Each night, the panelist would leave exhausted following a very full day of reviews. The applications included; the good, the bad and the ugly. Some made you mad, some made you laugh and many brought you to near tears. It was however, one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional career.

    The panelists were all dedicated to the fire service and had deep rooted feelings, thus the reason the whole process was exhausting. The responsibility placed on the reviewers was never far from our sights and we accepted it with great care and trust.

    I have never been a part of an operation that was so well run. The integrity of the process was amazing. Departments all across this country should feel confidant that the whole process as it stands now, may be as good as one can achieve.

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    And we thank you and Tyler and every other reviewer that VOLUNTEERED their time to help the process.

    One must remember the source of the outcries, which on these forums has usually been from people that do have no idea what a grant process is all about, have no desire to learn about it to get a better chance at success, and are hoping for a handout based on pure dumb luck. This attitude is a slap in the face not only to the integrity of those involved in the review process, but the system as a whole. This country has been too Clinton-ized to expect handouts for no other reason but feeling that they deserve them because they exist. NO ONE OWES ANYONE ELSE ANYTHING FOR ANY REASON! YOU HAVE TO EARN IT! If you're not going to follow the rules of the program or accept the outcome as fair, or bitch about how it never works in your favor when you get canned, you've got two choices: either grow up and do it right and accept the decisions made, or save the rest of us the grief of listening to you and save the reviewers some work and stop applying.

    Thanks again tmnkwd and Tyler for volunteering to review. There are some of us that appreciate the efforts and the feedback. I'm going to look into joining the reviewer ranks next year myself.

    Brian

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    Default Thanks for your thoughts

    Brian and everyone else:

    Thanks for your thoughts. I have to stand firm in my defense of this program, like you are. This is one pure example of government that really works. There is a real possibility that the program will undergo serious changes next year. I plan on shouting from the hilltops that there should be no change in the way the program is administered.

    Having a panel of your peerís judge your application on the merits of the need versus want is paramount to the success of this program. Iíll say it again; I would be at a loss to make any improvements to how this operation was run.

    I would recommend that anyone who decides to fill out the application take advantage of the classes offered by FEMA on how to apply for the grant. Be honest about your needs. If you have to ask what you need, maybe you donít need it. I found it ironic that departments with the least need were often asking for the most. Running 14 calls per year, they asked for $60,000.00 air cascade systems, $25,000.00 thermal imaging cameras, ATVís, Jet Skis, etc. At the same time we would see a department running 14 calls per yearasking for 1000í of 2 Ĺ because their 20-year-old hose was blowing every time they charged a line.

    If you donít get the grant, donít bash the program. Too many worthy departments receive direct benefit from this to blow the system apart. Donít be a sore loser. Pick yourself up and see what you can do to make a better application next year, if there is a next year. You are really only competing against yourself. We did not judge one application against another. They were judged on their own merits, and nothing else.

    Mark

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    Talking A few more questions

    How does one become an evaluator? This sounds like an interesting opportunity.

    What are the requirements to become evaluators?

    Thanks

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