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  1. #1
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    Default THE Dear John thread

    0 for 3.........I give up!!!

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    I forgot to tell you guys that I watched as three depts. in my county get funded and they were all within 10 square miles of each other and all work together (mutual aid). A fourth dept. was awarded on the opposite end of the county. I'm not whining....I'm glad these "home" depts. were awarded, but where is the fairness?
    My wish...............

    To assure ALL or MOST get to have some cake, there should be some stipulations after being awarded:

    1. IF you receive a grant, you shouldn't be able to apply again for a full year so others can have a better chance. Honestly, I can say if my dept. was awarded and in the name of fairness, I wouldn't have a problem with that. THIS MONEY TREE WON'T LAST MUCH LONGER!

    2. Switch the priority list every year. Vehicles one year, Operations and Safety another, etc.

    3. And the big one......If a large majority of the applicants are volunteer, then dedicate one year, just one, to funding volunteer fire depts.! I know you paid guys are fuming, but...........I'M A PAID/CAREER FIREFIGHTER ALSO, in a dept. with 1,100 firefighters and we received a half million dollars. Why am I complaining about that? Because my fire dept. can afford the items they asked for, really. My volunteer fire dept. can't! We'll have to run with our 1973 tanker that I climbed on and played "fireman" as a 6 year old.....I'm 34 now and an Asst. Chief.

    Seriously though, congratulations to all of the winners and spend wisely!

    Thanks for listening to my rant and frustration.

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    Default

    What did you apply for?

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    A pumper/tanker for a rural area, dual purpose, most bang-for-the-buck....

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    Are we to assume that you received an official "Dear John?" If so, when did you get it?

    Sean

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    Today (10-5-05)....comfirmed.

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    Sorry to here your not funded and best of luck next year.
    Looks like we made past the the old commodore 64 score and keeping our fingers crossed.
    Always confident, ever vigilant.

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    Good luck and congrats if you do get the $$$.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Truckie623
    To assure ALL or MOST get to have some cake, there should be some stipulations after being awarded:

    1. IF you receive a grant, you shouldn't be able to apply again for a full year so others can have a better chance. Honestly, I can say if my dept. was awarded and in the name of fairness, I wouldn't have a problem with that. THIS MONEY TREE WON'T LAST MUCH LONGER!

    2. Switch the priority list every year. Vehicles one year, Operations and Safety another, etc.

    3. And the big one......If a large majority of the applicants are volunteer, then dedicate one year, just one, to funding volunteer fire depts.! I know you paid guys are fuming, but...........I'M A PAID/CAREER FIREFIGHTER ALSO, in a dept. with 1,100 firefighters and we received a half million dollars. Why am I complaining about that? Because my fire dept. can afford the items they asked for, really. My volunteer fire dept. can't! We'll have to run with our 1973 tanker that I climbed on and played "fireman" as a 6 year old.....I'm 34 now and an Asst. Chief.
    Actually we've discussed such options in detail nearly every year of the program so far. The biggest thing is that this is not meant to be a welfare program, so there are some departments that will never be competitive. There is no requirement to ensure all or most of the departments receive money.

    1) We've gone back and forth on this one a lot. That's the reason it was done for vehicles, because some folks are highly competitive in multiple vehicle categories. For 2005, no one that had been previously awarded for a truck could apply again for a truck. Enacting an every other year limit wouldn't help some departments anyway. With 22,000 applications and 6,000 awards, there's still a great statistical possibility that 12,000 or more departments still don't get funded in the off years. That would only drop the application pool to around 16,000 with 6,000 awards, and with the previous 6,000 out of the loop for one year, they're back the next, still a pool of 16,000.

    2) PPE is more important than a truck any day of the week IMHO. I'll ride anything to the fire, even my own truck if I have to. But without good PPE, there's not a lot of fire that can be fought without having injuries or worse. That's the reason that they limit vehicles also.

    3) There are plenty of volunteer departments with more money to spend than career departments. Many of the career departments around me spend over 80% of their budget on salaries and benefits. There's no way they can keep up PPE replacement at the call volumes they run. Besides, the program is built on cost-benefit, i.e. how many many members of the public can we benefit with each $ in the program. The greater cost-benefits are in the populated (mostly career) areas. This is why they mandate that at least 54% of the money goes to volunteer departments, because they protect 54% of the population. Besides, less than 10% of the apps are from career departments, and usually less than 20% of the money goes to them. If anything, the awards are heavily biased towards volunteer departments.

    Believe it or not, the grant program folks visit these forums all of the time. They read our discussions and look for areas of improvement, whether it be in the application itself, the workshops they offer, or even the priorities themselves. But the latter isn't likely to change. As I said in Article #1, the fire service designed the priorities in the mid to late 1990s by answering the surveys from USFA that were sent out. Less than half were sent back, so it's like the regular elections: if you don't vote, you lose your right to complain. Lots of departments didn't vote, and that's how the priorities ended up the way they did. But knowing as many departments as I know, I don't think they'd be any different anyway.

    But nothing around here is perfect, so let's use this thread to keep throwing out constructive ideas about how to improve the program. After all, it's our program.

    And if you need some guidance/help, look up someone, there's plenty of places and people to go to for it. I can say there's help coming to your neck of the woods over in Shelby in December so you may not have to go far to find it. I know a nice Floridian and a local NC girl that can help out too, as well as a host of people in these forums.

    Good luck to those still hanging in there, and for those in the DJ line, get started on 2006 now so there's no rush at the finish line.

    - Brian
    Brian P. Vickers
    www.vickersconsultingservices.com
    Emergency Services Consulting
    Westlake VFD - Houston, TX
    Proud Member IACOJ - Redneck Division

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    Truckie, I believe I helped several of those agencies around you that got theirs this year and I am in Charlotte today and tomorrow teaching. Come on down and see what you did wrong,Bring your 05 AFG app with you.
    Kurt Bradley
    Fire/EMS/EMA Grant Consultant
    " Never Trade Skill for Luck"

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    Brian,

    Thanks for all the detail in explaining my questions, it does shed some light as to what, how and why. We probably will seek a grant writer next year!
    '03 - Truck (rescue)
    '04 - SCBA and staionary compressor
    '05 - Pumper/tanker

    I didn't make it to a grant workshop for the '05 grant, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn.............er, sorry. No, I did work closely with friends who were successful in '04 and they helped with a little wording in the narrative.
    My dept. is an aggressive, hard training dept. that earns respect for our job on the fireground. It just makes me wonder that if we would have the equipment to match our training and abilities, how much farther we could go!


    Kurt,

    Are you at the Feiro, Fire Station and Design Symposium?

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    Default DJ Round One

    Does anyone know if all of round one is out yet?

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    Not a problem.

    Just going on the list of what you applied for:

    2003 Rescue - Priority 2 truck, I don't think these will ever be awarded again, too much competition for Priority 1 trucks.
    2004 SCBA & Stationary Compressor - Excellent choice of just sticking to one area of need, added benefit would have been mobile cascade/compressor. Not saying it would have made a difference, but we never know when a little more cost-benefit will make the difference.
    2005 Pumper/tanker - they dropped the hybrids, so if it was over 1250 gallon tank, it was a tanker, and depending on what other vehicles you have your competitiveness changes. Toss in call volume and mileage since we know it's 32 years old.

    Since you were in the first Round of DJs, that means you didn't make it to the 200% of the money availability mark to be passed on to Peer Review. Since I don't know where else that explanation is, I'll throw it out again.

    Basically, when the computer is done scoring, they compare the cost of projects to the available money. So knowing that they're 99.9% sure they're going to give out all of the vehicle money (~$155 mil this year), they take the cumulative total of the awards until the dollars requested equals $310 million. So if that's #1 through #1600, then #1601 thru #7000 won't go on to Peer Review and get 1st Round DJs. The same goes for the other categories.

    Fire away here if you have questions you think everyone might benefit from the answers to, or email offline.

    - Brian

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    Quote Originally Posted by BC79er
    Actually we've discussed such options in detail nearly every year of the program so far. The biggest thing is that this is not meant to be a welfare program

    2) PPE is more important than a truck any day of the week IMHO. I'll ride anything to the fire, even my own truck if I have to. But without good PPE, there's not a lot of fire that can be fought without having injuries or worse. That's the reason that they limit vehicles also.

    - Brian
    Well, as expected we're 0 for 4 now.

    Brian, I wouldn't exactly call it a welfare program, but I thought that this program was developed to get equipment to the departments that need it and have no other ways to get the funding. I always understood that this program was developed after 9/11 when the government discovered the lack of resources actually available from fire departments and that this money was funded to allow those departments to get the necessary equipment to make our country safer. Correct me if I'm wrong and if I am, I think the program needs to re-evaluated.

    As far as PPE being more important that a truck... What good does it do if you arrive at a fire in your private vehicle, put on your shiny new PPE, and then no water or equipment shows up ???? Reminds me of the phrase "All dressed up with nowhere to go".

    After being turned down 4 times, twice for a truck, twice for PPE and extrication equipment, I really think the government should send out the "questionaires" again (which we never received the first time) and re-evaluate the program.

    Congrats to all the winners, I'm done whining now.

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    Super - not sure. If not, then it's kinda nice that more of the active folks around these forums aren't on the DJ list, it means we're making progress.

    Truckie - anything earth-shattering in the DJ or is it the usual?

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    Brian, I wouldn't exactly call it a welfare program, but I thought that this program was developed to get equipment to the departments that need it and have no other ways to get the funding. I always understood that this program was developed after 9/11 when the government discovered the lack of resources actually available from fire departments and that this money was funded to allow those departments to get the necessary equipment to make our country safer.
    Well since the first year for it was in 2000, law passed in mid-1999, 9/11 has nothing to do with AFG. The Homeland Security Grant Program was an answer to 9/11.

    The reason this is not a welfare program is that communities still need to support their local fire department as they see fit. Basically, if you have a 30 year old truck, 10 years ago it was 20 years old and it was 5 years before the grant program had begun. What was the plan for replacing it then? Why was it not taken care of? What do you do now when that truck is out for its state inspection or getting new tires? How will a new one awarded now be taken care of if there wasn't any money to keep the other one in shape? New trucks cost more to maintain, so if there isn't money for PM, what guarantee is there that the new one will still be running in 5 or 10 year? If it doesn't go into pump gear now, and it will take 12-18 months to get a new one after being awarded, what are you doing until then?

    These are all rhetorical questions of course, I live in the real world so I already know the answers for most of the departments. But these are the kinds of questions that are in between the lines of the application and the narrative questions. These are the answers you must have and supply without ever being asked. This is one of the major differences between successful and unsuccessful applications. Successful ones answer the questions that no one asks up front but they always want the answer to.

    This program like other grant programs is not meant to be a golden arrow for funding America's emergency services. It's a boost, but not a complete solution. The main responsibility for funding a fire department lies with the area and residents it covers. If they don't think it's important to fund the fire department, few others outside that border will. There are funding solutions besides grants that we all must try.

    - Brian

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    Default Still Waiting

    Thanks BC ....We applied for a Fire Boat due to we have 80 miles of waterways to cover with four rivers ...Cumberland, Tennessee, Ohio and Clarks ...Last year we had a $5.5million loss due to not having a fire boat...we have tried to get help from locals, but they don't see the need....So since we have yet to recieve anything I guess i'm still hopeful.

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    Does anyone know if all the peer review DJ's are out then? I have two still out there, a Heavy Rescue and SAFER. Nothing in my box today. Keeping them crossed!

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    Default My suggestion

    Quote Originally Posted by BC79er
    But nothing around here is perfect, so let's use this thread to keep throwing out constructive ideas about how to improve the program. After all, it's our program.
    Okay, here's my suggestion to improve equity of awards.

    Select ONE priority item (TICs, PPE, SCBAs, exhaust-sucker-outers, weight machines, trucks, whatever) and set a standard for how many of that particular item every department should have (based on population, run volume, number of companies, etc). Then fund the purchase of that item until EVERY department in the county that applies meets the standard. Then, move on to the next item on the priority list. I believe doing this would improve the program in the following ways:

    1. It would streamline the process by eliminating the need for subjective decision making (peer review) and lengthy narratives. Once the item is selected and the standard is set, then departments either meet it or not. If a department does not meet the minimum standard, then they are awarded the funds necessary to do so. If the feds decide that every department should have 3 widgets and I have 1, then I receive enough funding for 2 more widgets. If I have 4 widgets, then I'm out of luck.

    2. It would add a sense of fairness that is currently lacking. If widgets are funded until EVERYONE has the minimum amount, then we wouldn't have situations where Department A receives widgets, doohickeys and green-handled hole movers while Department B still needs widgets.

    I suppose the problem with my idea is that if the government chooses to fund widgets, then the lobbyists for the doohickey manufacturers would probably try to kill the program. I guess you just can't please everybody.

    PS: No Dear John for us yet. Maybe this'll be the year we'll finally crack the nut, but I'm not getting my hopes up.
    Last edited by Chief310; 10-06-2005 at 10:58 AM.

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    Besides the fact that some states require red-handled hole movers but only when used in conjuction with an adjustable metric wrench.

    While all good ideas, the only problem I see is that the fire service can barely agree on any other standards as it is, so how would we ever get to the point to figure out what the minimum number of anything per department is? I know of 1 department that has 4 SCBA. Period. They don't want/need any more because they only run 30 calls a year, and the only real fires they have are brush fires. They don't want to have to pay for maintenance and testing of equipment that won't be used. Their 1 real structure fire every other year brings in a lot of neighboring departments with SCBA, so they have plenty. Other department I know only have 20 calls, and they're all structure, no brush, and none false. They need lots of SCBA and a compressor too. But a high level look would make these two departments equal, and the only stats they are close in is in population, budget, and classification. Tactics differ, situations differ. That makes for a standards nightmare.

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    A sad day here, my inbox greeted me with a Dear John this morning. Was dissapointed to see it, actually thought my application this year was better than previous years (even the ones that had been funded). but apparently my view was different than those reviewing applications.

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    Default Stinks to be us

    Got the Dear John today. We went for an engine this year. We are 3 out of 5 now. I thought it was a long shot. Sorry for everyone who didn't get one, and Congrats to the ones who did.

    Matt

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    Quote Originally Posted by BC79er
    Besides the fact that some states require red-handled hole movers but only when used in conjuction with an adjustable metric wrench.

    While all good ideas, the only problem I see is that the fire service can barely agree on any other standards as it is, so how would we ever get to the point to figure out what the minimum number of anything per department is? I know of 1 department that has 4 SCBA. Period. They don't want/need any more because they only run 30 calls a year, and the only real fires they have are brush fires. They don't want to have to pay for maintenance and testing of equipment that won't be used. Their 1 real structure fire every other year brings in a lot of neighboring departments with SCBA, so they have plenty. Other department I know only have 20 calls, and they're all structure, no brush, and none false. They need lots of SCBA and a compressor too. But a high level look would make these two departments equal, and the only stats they are close in is in population, budget, and classification. Tactics differ, situations differ. That makes for a standards nightmare.
    I don't think it would be too difficult to set a minimum standard. NFPA does it all the time. Getting everyone to agree with it is another issue entirely.

    If any department doesn't need or want what the feds offer, then they won't apply. Each year, my state's natural resources department offers grants for sets of wildland PPE complete with emergency shelter. In my area of the state, which is flat and mostly farm fields, we don't have the need for that equipment, so we don't apply.

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    Brian,

    Here is an excerpt from the DJ.

    "In order to improve the competitiveness of your next grant request under the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program, we recommend that you review the portion of your application in which you answered specific questions about the activity areas of funding for your proposed grant. Compare the activity priorities of our Program Guidance for 2005 with your answers to these questions in the application. If your answers consistently deviated from the higher priorities, your application did not score well competitively against other applications that were more focused on the higher."

    I don't think I deviated, just applied for a pumper/tanker that we REALLY and TRULY need.

    Thanks!

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    Got my DJ this morning............#%$* *&@% ^#$^ *&@#.......

    Went for LDH and fittings, TIC, and portable monitor.
    Chief
    Wren Volunteer Fire Department
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    http://www.wrenfiredepartment.4t.com/

    In Memory of:
    FireFighter/Pilot James Archer
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    "Rest in peace James, you now have the ultimate set of wings on you."

    Thanks, LeuitEFDems

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