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  1. #1
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    Default You're Kidding, Right?

    I am a firefighter from Texas, who has the dual viewpoint of being a Captain for a very wealthy Metroplex department and the Chief of a rural Volunteer department, that is resouce strapped, at best. I am reviewing the first round of awards and am having a hard time believing some of the awards to some relatively wealthy communities, in my area while other grant requests from some very resource-challenged departments (and yes, one from my VFD) were not initially funded.
    One of the departments who was funded today, and I am glad for their sake they were funded, is a department that I have made request to in the past for hand-me-down equipment. Again, this is the initial awards, but I know of many, many other under-resourced departments that have basic needs that must be addressed to just stay functional, that were skipped over today and resources given to well-resourced departments that probably applied for the grant because they didn't want to have to justify it in the upcoming budget, not because their community couldn't have funded it.
    Well, thanks for letting me get that off my chest, I am sure if mine and some others in my rural network are funded I will think this is the best thing since sliced bread, but right now I don't. Stay safe.

  2. #2
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    Default I agree

    This is the second time for this grant stuff for my underfunded department.
    I really don't understand the whole process.
    It seems that those who need the help the most are the first ones to be left out.
    All we want is a little help .
    It seems that we don't have enough call volume. AND WE'RE PUNISHED for it.
    yes I seem bitter. but more discouraged than anything else.

  3. #3
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    Default Maybe not so quick...

    So, being in a small VFD and seeing some other, more well off Combo and Career departments, I also can see both sides.

    We are small. 15 volunteers, rural Southern Indiana, Low run volume (160+) a year and a small budget. We get by, but it's not always easy. Fund raising is fun, but the AFGP has been a blessing.

    2004 we were awarded funds for PPE and SCBA for everyone, some radio equipment, AEDs, RIT kit and a cascade system. 125K+. 2005, today, we were awarded funds to replace our 1978 pumper. (Thanks for everyone's help!)

    Our narrative was key in making it past the peer review. Obviously you have to get past the computer-aided (magical, mystical algorithm) part of the grant review...and I know nothing about that at all. I know we have just made it past in the last two years. We were not successful in 2003. Went for a pumper, submitted a less than steller application (narrative part that is) and were turned down. I wasn't involved, but after reading it, I wouldn't have awarded us any money either. We did make it past the computer scoring, but not the peer review. I have no doubts why.

    We know how this works and if you make it past the computer scoring and don't get funded, have someone with more experience take a look at it. Words are just words, but if you can't get them in the right structure for this process chances are reduced greatly.

    This is not about wealthy vs. non-wealthy. This is about need, benefit to the FD and community, and the cost benefit of funding a project by DHS. Pretty straight forward. Wealthy departments obviously make it past the computer scoring as well as non-wealthy (like us) departments. Not sure how you can read anything into that. It is what it is.

    If the perceived issue is "Why are wealthy (or better off) departments applying?" ask yourself. Wouldn't you? If you are able to prove your need on the same playing field as everyone else then we are all in the same boat.

    I have (ranted enough today) learned so much by reading and participating in these forums, asking questions of ya'll, DHS and other departments and listening. I know this has made a difference in our applications the last two years.

    Thanks for letting me rant. Best.
    --
    e.g.h.
    Matt

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    Default

    As I perused the list this morning I noticed several oddities, including an island based town (year-round population 12,000) on the east coast which received 155k for training. We did FF 1/2 for 24 firefighters for less than 3k. Just sounds like a lot for training for a wealthy community.

    Enough of my whining. We are still in the hunt, and what a blessing it will be when we get some help!! Now if they would only send those 10q's...

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    Default

    So is there anyway to tell whether or not you have been eliminated through the initial computer analysis or if it is through the narrative and peer review process? We only have been successful once, so how do we know whether or not it is our narrative that is not getting us anywhere or if for some reason its our other information?

    Any help is appreciated....

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    So is there anyway to tell whether or not you have been eliminated through the initial computer analysis or if it is through the narrative and peer review process? We only have been successful once, so how do we know whether or not it is our narrative that is not getting us anywhere or if for some reason its our other information?

    Any help is appreciated....


    Eric Minnich
    Asst. Chief / NREMT-P
    Neffs Volunteer Fire Co.
    Neffs, PA

  7. #7
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    Default

    It used to be that if you were denied in the first round of DJs, that had to be assumed that you didn't make it past the computer. Last year (or the year before, can't remember exactly), they changed the DJ to state that you didn't make it to Peer Review. I'm sure they kept that format for this year so you will know, but also the first DJ round again will be those that didn't make Peer Review.

    McDuff, I'm not sure who you're speaking of, I can't find too many on the list in TX that got anything that have money growing on the trees in the back of the station. Well, I can think of two maybe, but just because the area has money, doesn't mean they give it to the FD. Like I said in the last article, it's not how much money you have, it's how much you have to spend on the project. One city near me spends close to 90% of their budget on salaries and benefits, which leaves very little for making improvements. They weren't on the list, and I'm not even sure they applied. I know many that don't apply because they know they are well off, and I applaud them for thinking of their brothers and sisters in other departments and not applying for what they could afford on their own if they tried. Proof that some in this country aren't motivated by greed.

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    About all you can do is wait for the DJs to come out. If you get one the first round, chances you didn't make it to peer review. I, too, wish they could tell us where our apps were deficient, but they don't.
    Jack Boczek, Chief
    Ashley Community Fire Protection District

    FLATLANDERS FOREVER!

  9. #9
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    Default low call volume

    If 160 calls a year is considered "low call volume" then I guess my little dept should just quit now. Last year was a busy one 65 calls in 365 days. See why we feel we're being punished? Just because my 2000 or so populus don't burn their houses often... we get NO FUNDING

  10. #10
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    Default

    Well, you picked a good screenname, you're definitely not from around these parts.

    After 5 years of being the answerman on these forums, I noticed the same complaints, the same questions, and lots of emotions flying around. All of it stemming from people not having a true understanding of the program's purpose and priorities. This is the reason I am writing the article series: I don't want to win money because I'm the only one that knows what's going on, I want to win the award because we are the best choice when compared to the program's guidelines and priorities. So I am sharing the bulk of the knowledge that I have gained after thousands of hours of research in various places. My goal is to increase the level of understanding of everyone applying to the program. So even though you haven't been denied anything yet, go out and read my articles, read the others that are available on this web site and others. Some may have initial success just because they get dealt the right cards, but unless you truly understand what is going on, you will not repeat success. Again, I've been here 5 years, it's not a secret. I haven't added up my totals yet, but at first glance I've just added over $2 million to my assistance total based on the emails I've gotten since yesterday, which will put me up over $8 million raised since 2001. And I'm not even halfway through.

    And no, I'm not the only one around here that knows what they're doing. Kurt, Alana, and a handful of others have demonstrated the same successes that I have, and there's a reason for that: they understand the programs to know what works and what doesn't. One award a grant writer does not make. Do your homework, and success will come. It has to be the right project, for the right department, for the right reasons. Figuring that out is not easy, and it does take work. Good luck and keep hanging around here, you'll pick up what you need to know.

  11. #11
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    Cool Just bummed and discouraged

    This is our second attempt at this grant.(any grant for that matter). last year's attempt got us the dreaded DJ letter in october. That was with little help from outsiders, and quite frankly I filled out the app. along with the narrative on my own. (I now know that was a big mistake) This time around we actually formed a committe comprised of what I would think were very well educated members. IE Teachers, both high school and college levels, even an employee of the New York State Senate, and with the help of freinds from a nearby successfull fire department, who bye the way have a much higher call volume due primarily to the fact they run E.M.S. calls and we do not, it just seems that the call volume plays a major part. I thought we'd have better luck this year. I know it's just the first round but....well you see the emotions.

  12. #12
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    Default

    Call volume does play a part in the process, but just because you have a low call volume doesn't mean you will not get a grant. It is based on a cost/benefit ratio. If you have 35 fire calls a year and are asking for $100,000 you might not be successful. I have seen departments that I know run less than 35 calls a year get $40,000 to $50,000 grants.
    We ran 60-80 fire calls a year and we just got a $86,593 grant for SCBAs and Compressor.

    BTW, it was our first fire act grant. We were 0 for 4 going in this year.

  13. #13
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    Red face thanks

    last year we went for 36,000 for turn out.
    this year went big wishing to replace our 1973 homemade rescue van. this thing is SCARY half our members refuse to drive it.
    I'll just keep watching and hoping.

  14. #14
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    You must be newatthisgame if you went for a rescue. it's not a priority 1 vehicle so it's a real long shot to get one. Good luck, you'll need it.
    Jack Boczek, Chief
    Ashley Community Fire Protection District

    FLATLANDERS FOREVER!

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    This is what I hate about this program. We too applied for a new rescue because this is our only truck. And because rescue trucks aren't a priority one item, our department may no longer exsist after this year. Our "non-priority 1" rescue provides breathing air county-wide including our local police dept. dive team, the county haz-mat team, and many other departments. We have responded to such major incidents as the L'Ambiance Plaza collapse in Bridgeport Connecticut in the 80's, the Tanker explosion that closed Interstate 95 in Bridgeport Connecticut last year, our members assisted in searching for survivors the day after the collapse of the World Trade Center. In our district, we have General Electric World Headquarters, a college campus, 3 high schools, 3 middle schools, several elementary schools, and 3 nursing homes. We repond first due to Connecticut route 15 (The Merritt Parkway) as well as Interstate 95. All of this and we are yet to receive anything from this program. We've tried for new PPE, new hydraulic rescue tools, and now a new rescue truck because our's is in such bad shape and isn't big enough for all of our equipment.

    The priority of items should be based upon the needs and makeup of each department, not a system-wide chart. Our budget consists of the $12,000 we make from our annual fundraising letter and about another $3600 from our monthly can & bottle drives. If things remain the way they are, we'll NEVER get the funding we need to replace our ONLY truck.

  16. #16
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    Default I'm Aware

    I read the "priorities List " which is why i applied for a "quick attack/brush truck w/ a rescue style body" . without putting in a lot of boring specs...this type truck is speced out to be a primary first due truck for smaller type alarms..aapi's and such.

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    I too read the priorities list, however I'm not going to apply for something we don't need and take funds away from another deserving department. I applied for what we needed but unfortunately, I guess rescue trucks aren't needed.

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    SVFD72

    Iam somewhat confused about your statements

    "This is what I hate about this program. We too applied for a new rescue because this is our only truck."

    further into your statement

    "In our district, we have General Electric World Headquarters, a college campus, 3 high schools, 3 middle schools, several elementary schools, and 3 nursing homes."

    "Our budget consists of the $12,000 we make from our annual fundraising letter and about another $3600 from our monthly can & bottle drives."

    My question sir is with these commercial and public buldings, do you not have a tax base? Is the rescue your ONLY apparatus? Are you a district?Perhaps on the narrative portion this was clear.

    Don't give up sir, your still in the game

    Good Luck

    Tom

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    Default

    If you don't get funded this year DON'T give up, keep reading these forums and asking questions. I was also 0-4 on grants. Our call volume is in the 80's and our population is around 2000 the last 2 years I went for airpacks (15 years old) and gear ( 12 years old) and never recieved any funds.This year we looked at what we needed the most and recievd 12 new airpacks. I felt like we were asking for to much money with our call volume and population. So don't give up and keep on trying. We were also sucessful in 2004 with a Fire Prevention Grant, I am a believer that if the money is there we are going to keep appling, and do your homework, the people in this forum are your friends keep reading them and learn from them. Thanks to everyone out there I truly feel that everyone helped me in getting this grant!!!!!!!The last 2 years I recieved DJ in the 35th and 38th rounds. Thank god I recieved it in the 1st round this year. Good luck to everyone.

  20. #20
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    SVFD's situation is a unique one, and he can correct me if I am wrong, but they are the volunteer contingent of the Fairfield (CT) FD, a fully career dept. Hence, no suppression vehicles needed on their side of the operation.

    As far as Rescues being a Priority 2, there is a really long and involved explanation for that, and since dessert is on the table, I'm going to cut it short(er). In many areas of the country, FDs do not perform extrication, the EMS agencies do. So in that big survey that was sent out way back when (the one that the priorities are based on), America's FDs stated that rescues were not a high priority for them. Engines and tankers, and for rural areas, brush trucks. Ladders get thrown in for Suburban and Urban. You can put rescue tools on a pumper or a ladder. I've seen plenty of cascades on pumpers, and even a few on ladder trucks. Standalone rescue trucks are becoming a thing of the past for the average department. Manpower is low, money is tight, so it doesn't make fiscal sense for most areas to spend money on a truck that may not make many calls. I would be surprised if anyone ever got a Priority 2 truck again, just because the competition for P1 trucks is so great. Back in 2002 when we got our heavy rescue, not many applied for a truck thinking it would never happen, so the competition wasn't there like it is today. And if we weren't bordering the 4th largest city with a ton of high speed-high volume roads, and didn't mutual aid 12 agencies on a regular basis, we wouldn't have gotten it then either. Even with our increased call volume and everything else, I don't believe that today we could win with that project. The competition is too stiff for trucks that are more aimed at fighting fires, our primary jobs.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by jboczek
    About all you can do is wait for the DJs to come out. If you get one the first round, chances you didn't make it to peer review. I, too, wish they could tell us where our apps were deficient, but they don't.
    They don't say much, but they do say enough to let you read between the lines. I got DJ'd a couple years back on a FP grant, (I don't remember exactly what the DJ said), but it was something to do with cost-benefit not being sufficient. The next year I turned in the exact same narrative, with 1 extra paragraph about cost-benefit and got the grant in the second round.

    It seems like every year after the first round we get into this have-have not argument... (see dead horse threads in firefighting fourm ) It's like Brian said, larger depts have larger expenses. The city I live in has 2500 people. Our FF is funded through a millrate on property taxes. Our budget is around 70,000 per year. Our taxpayers have funded a new million dollar Fire station and 270-thousand dolla truck in the last 2 years and the AFG has funded $300,000 in new SCBA, PPE and this year a communications/accountability system. (and we donated our old equipment to a neighboring dept.)

    Some would say FD 's like mine are "haves" because our taxpayers have stepped up to the plate to support thier dept, but that doesn't mean we are any less cash strapped than any other FD. Every thing we've got in the past couple years was badly needed, and I for one don't think that our taxpayers should be "punished" and have thier city excluded from the grant process just because they've supported us financially.

    Call volume is included in the scoring, but to my understanding so is budget and funding. I'm pretty sure when the computer looks at the value of the property you protect, it also looks at the funding that your community provides and factors that into the equation.

    Maybe the computer sees a department that protects millions in property that only has a $12,000 budget and says if the taxpayers in thier own community won't fund thier FD, why should the taxpayers of the nation?

    I know I sound bi##hy with this, but this issue sticks in my craw....
    Last edited by ameryfd; 08-21-2005 at 12:40 AM.

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    Red face to the "havies" from a "have not"

    I see your side too. My gripe is my district is 20 square miles with a populus of @ 2000 people and mostly farm land and not one bit of commercial property we have absolutly no tax base and an annual budget thats just under 18,000. you know the saying cant get blood from a stone? cant get it from farmland either.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BC79er
    SVFD's situation is a unique one, and he can correct me if I am wrong, but they are the volunteer contingent of the Fairfield (CT) FD, a fully career dept. Hence, no suppression vehicles needed on their side of the operation.
    Brian is right. We work directly alongside a paid department which gets it's funding from the taxpayers. We are a town of 56,000 people, 5 career engines, 1 career ladder, 1 career rescue, 1 volunteer squad, and 1 volunteer rescue / air unit (our's). Even though we have been in existence since before the career department, people don't want to give money to a volunteer organization when they believe that is what their taxes are for.

    Our town is located on Long Island Sound, 50 miles from New York City. We have 2 major highways (Interstate 95 and the Merritt Parkway), we have the Metro North commuter railway and Amtrak running through our town with 2 train stations and a 3rd under construction, we have 2 colleges in town. All this information (and more) including traffic statistics was included in my application.

    The other volunteer department in our town has been awarded a new truck, new PPE, and new training material. The person that wrote their grants helped us last year with our request for new PPE and new hydraulic rescue tools. Our PPE at the time was given to us by the career department after it was deemed "unsafe" for their use. Our hydraulic rescue tools are the same age as our rescue truck, 19 years old. Last year we did make it to peer review, but received our "Dear John" in October.

    This year I went for the truck because that is what we need the most. We are not in the habit of applying for grants just because there is money out there, we have never applied for a Fire Prevention grant because that is not what we do, it's handled by the career department in town. I always believed that this program was designed to get the departments in need, the equipment that they need... But I guess it has to be on "the list" and if what you need isn't a priority to someone else, oh well....

    Please excuse my bitterness, it is NOT directed at anyone here and I have nothing but well wishes for all the departments that get their grants. My gripe is with the system, it doesn't appear to me to be working as designed because of the restrictions in place.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by NewAtThisGame
    I see your side too. My gripe is my district is 20 square miles with a populus of @ 2000 people and mostly farm land and not one bit of commercial property we have absolutly no tax base and an annual budget thats just under 18,000. you know the saying cant get blood from a stone? cant get it from farmland either.
    Please don't think I'm crabby with you, this is just for the sake of argument. But just doing some math....If you have 20 square miles of nothing but farmland (that means not a single strucuture) that would equal 12,800 acres of land. On the way low side (assuming there are zero structures) let's say the land is valued at $750 per acre. That would equal a total valuation of $96,000,000. With a budget of only $18,000, that means that the property owners are getting charged .5 mil for fire protection. That is a below average milrate, and that is assuming that there is zero improvements on any of the property. Your area may be valued more or less, but just add a couple buildings for the 2000 people who live there and 96 million in valuation is probably low....even if it's not, .5 is on the low end of the national average for fire protection. Most in our area (even the have nots) are at about .7 millrate for fire protection..... Where I live it's about .52 mil. and is over $100,000 (I looked, my last post was way off). We have a town of 2500 people, and 96 percent of our district is comprised of farmland (hey, it's Wisconsin we still have more cows than people ) , but even here our valuation of about 20 square miles of area we protect is around 300 million dollars.

    The funding issue can be argued til we're blue in the face. I agree, there are many departments, probably most, with less that adequate funding. In a day where we see tax money going to support the local art gallery, but the FD is left having to hold a fund raiser to replace hose, I think many of our communities have thier priorities screwed up.

    There are some departments in this country that still recieve zero taxpayer funding.....and they are suffering because of it.... Should they be first in line simply because they recieve little or no public support from thier local community?....I personally don't think so.

    My point is that there is only so much federal money to go around, (something like 16,000) depts will get rejected, and to say that only those whose taxpayers haven't stepped up to the plate are the ones who should get the money first is just not right.

    I think (that while not perfect) the AFG is as close to fair as humanly possible. On the computer scoring EVERYONE is graded on the same criteria....then it's off to a peer review where OUR OWN people from every sort of FD, community and socioeconomic background look at the merits of a narrative. Then the money is given out based on the same criteria for everyone until it's gone.....I'm not sure how much more fair it can get.

    Done Rambling....

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    There is a limited amount of funding to go around --- shouldnt the funding go where you will get more bang for your buck ? Do the math -- an area that has 5 working structure a year or one that has 50 --- that new truck MAY save 50 houses a year -- or MAY save 5 -- I think it stands a better chance to do more good with the 50 runs. I t hink its a fair program, not perfect , but its one of the few government programs that doesnt penalize a department/ community for trying to help themselves.

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