SAFER, who is actually going to use it?
The merits (or lack of) have been discussed. The Constitutionality (or lack thereof) have been discussed. Increasing control over (funding of), and the associated negatives, for local fire depts by the feds has been discussed. Looks like it is going to happen. House and Senate have both funded, now to conference for the details.
So is your dept/gov't body likely to apply for/use SAFER? Perhaps 3 potential "markets" for SAFER. SAFER max $100000 payable on sliding scale over 4 years of a 5 year program.
1. Big city/paid dept - IAFF pushing for SAFER as a way to buy more members with fed $ (increased influence/power). Cities presumable are now financing what they think they can afford or need in fire protection/service. Many of these city used COPS or were "burned" by COPS. Bush admin. to be expected to structure the program (as COPS) to allow Fed $ to fund the existing headcount as happened with COPS? Are cities going to be able come up with $ to add new headcount? Grant apparently is something like 25-30% of the cost of fireman in NY over the 5 year life of a grant. Maybe somewhat more in other cities. SAFER going work here?
2. Midmarket city/combo dept - Are buying the ISO rating they want or can afford. Maybe a few full timers. Much of the budget goes into equipment upgrades vs. salary. New $ as likely to for equipment upgrades as anything else. Are they going to dig up $ to add paid guy 24/7. Or add a 2nd/3rd man on shift?
3. Small city/rural/vol dept. No paid at present. New $ go to equipment upgrades. Are they going to come find $ for a paid fireman 40hr/week? Potentially BIG payoff if they do in ISO. Real world big payoff in having manned station for fire or EMS calls.
What market are you in? Do you see your community using safer? Big variable is manpower cost per year.
My market is at the tail end; small city/rural/vol. I would be enthusiasticlly jump at a SAFER grant if could put a man in station 40hr/week. Would do some very creative work to find grant $, fundraising to make it happen. Would ignore the constitutionality problem (as in writing a Fire Grant) in order to improve our community. A max $100000 SAFER grant would fund over 70% of my cost to hire a FF2/EMT for 5 years. But we can't do it as the program currently stands. The salary reimbursement now is set up on a sliding scale (90/80/50/30/0). Yr1 easy, local $ = 10%; Yr2 local$= 20%; BUT in Yr3 local$ = 50%; Yr4 local$ = 70% (impossible) Yr5 local$ = 100%. Someone smoking crack (and didn't watch COPS) thinks then keep guy on staff forever.
Appears to me that restructuring SAFER more like the Fire Grant program (and please turn it over to the same administrators) in order to spread $ out to smaller cities will have a bigger payoff. Adding a 4th (or 3rd) man per engine in large cities is very very expensive when multipled by 4 shifts x __ stations. How many new men are required to bring the FD in you city up to NFPA manning? x annual cost per man. Any improvement in ISO rating? In vol. (or combo) dept immediate payback of adding men.