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  1. #1
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    Default Grants, Greed, Guile, and Guilt

    Does anyone feel like fire departments are turning into a welfare dependent organization?

    Our department has failed to receive a fire grant the last two years, however…..

    We bought a neighboring dept. SCBAs that were far better than ours. They were barely used and only a few years old. They always get the newest and best. They were awarded a $140,000.00 grant to a department with half our call rate, half our training, and half of our pop. Our budget is less than $25,000/yr. This department has the largest taxation base in the district.

    This year we purchased a new thermal imaging camera from a department that bought one and didn’t know their grant writer had applied for one on the grant they received for equipment. They figured they could use the extra cash.

    It sounds to me like people (departments and grant writers) who figure out the welfare system thrive, while some conservative hardworking people keep paying their taxes to fund this system.


  2. #2
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    I think to some degree you are correct. However, there are many, many departments that have received grants that truly need them. This is life. There is greed and there are those companies that happen to be able to afford to use professional grant writers that know all the key phrases and proper language. Maybe you might just invest next year and use a grant writer.

    Please understand this is not knocking the grant writers. I applaud them. They do most departments a true service.

    It is the program itself that needs a way to monitor true need.

    Once again, our department has been lucking in writing their own grants and we are in need. We have been blessed and somehat successful, but we are only asking for true needs.

    The system is not perfect but at least it is getting some equipment and vehicles to those that really truly need.

    Thanks

  3. #3
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    I'm not following something here:

    They were awarded a $140,000.00 grant to a department with half our call rate, half our training, and half of our pop. Our budget is less than $25,000/yr. This department has the largest taxation base in the district.
    How do they have the largest tax base but half the population? Is it a different tax rate than you? What is their budget?

    While I agree that knowing certain key phrases can help an application, if it doesn't get past the computer, then all of the 25 cent words in the world won't help something that won't be read. The computer is indifferent to who entered the statistics, so the only "fluff" that it looks at it the items requested and their cost. Calculations are performed, statistical "need" is returned in the form of a score based on the items requested and their cost.

    And certainly there are grant writers that take aim for only those that can afford to pay them, or they are sure they can get the department to pay them. While I agree with their right to conduct their business as they see fit as long as it's legal, I don't agree with the mission, and I don't work like that because I like to sleep at night. I do have to say in this case, at least they got the department an award, I know many, many (did I say many?) departments that have paid a lot of zero's to writers for applications that had ineligible items, low priority items, and in some cases, the department had a better chance of finding Jimmy Hoffa behind the wheel of the pumper than getting an award.

    Hence, the reason Kurt, Alana, and I post to the forums as well as the other things we do: we don't want anyone to get taken advantage of. If anything we've talked people out of applying for things. I know I've crossed out several lines on want lists because it was too much. Same reason I wrote/am writing the articles. I believe everyone should understand the program, i.e. be an educated consumer. That way if you do decide to hire someone, you at least know whether you're being sold a lemon or not. Or, you know what to do on your own. It doesn't take a grant writer to succeed, but sometimes you need that outside opinion. Just make sure the one you go with isn't out to pay for their car with the bill they hand to you at the end of it.

    - Brian

  4. #4
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    Ditto that Brian! Guy, their are bad apples in every bunch. They are in my profession, they are in your profession. It is ethics and integrity that keep some of us going. Personally I won;t compromise my integrity or ethics for anyone or anything, 30 years in law enforcment with a spotless record does that to a guy. Those that play in the gray areas and step off the line will eventually pay the price for these forays into " streching the rules" just to fit their department. I am also curious as to how they got their SCBAs, which you guys bought, if they were in fact only "a few years old". The standard is ten years of age or older to get funded. Something smells fishy there for sure, meow , meow!
    Kurt Bradley
    Public Safety Grants Consultant

    "Never Trade Skill for Luck"

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by jtk9203
    We bought a neighboring dept. SCBAs that were far better than ours. They were barely used and only a few years old. They always get the newest and best. They were awarded a $140,000.00 grant to a department with half our call rate, half our training, and half of our pop. Our budget is less than $25,000/yr. This department has the largest taxation base in the district.

    This year we purchased a new thermal imaging camera from a department that bought one and didn’t know their grant writer had applied for one on the grant they received for equipment. They figured they could use the extra cash.
    .
    So TWO departments benefited greatly from the grants???

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber ameryfd's Avatar
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    jtk903, please don't take this personally, because you are only one of many who have been ripping the AFG apart....but.....

    It is time people realized that the AFG is NOT a welfare program. Welfare is a handout to people or organizations who do not have. The AFG was never meant to be a means testing, alternative way to fund a fire department. The amount of $$$ a community chooses to support it's emergency services is not really important to the AFG. From the program guidence.....

    The purpose of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program is to award one-year grants directly to fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical services (EMS) organizations of a State to enhance their abilities with respect to fire and fire-related hazards. Our primary goal is to provide assistance to meet fire departments’ and nonaffiliated EMS organizations’ firefighting and emergency response needs. This program seeks to support organizations that lack the tools and resources necessary to protect the health and safety of the public and their emergency response personnel with respect to fire and all other hazards they may face.

    Now there is a line in thier about "lacking the resources necessary" but once again...there is a huge difference between LACKING resources and FAILING TO PROVIDE resources.

    If Dept A has twice the call volume and twice the size as Dept B, but Dept A's budget is 1/2 the size of Dept B....this does NOT show that Dept A LACKS the resources, only that it FAILS TO PROVIDE the resources.

    Furthermore, just because a department has a larger taxbase ect...does not mean that they have the "tools" and can't use "assistance" to protect the health and safety of their personell.

    I could go on and on....but until we all realize that this grant program is an ASSISTANCE program, and not a have vs. have nots funding issue, we will continue to have this discussion forever.

    I DO agree that there are some depts and writers that take advantage of the system. We have also beat that horse into a pulp. However, out of the ten's of thousands of FD's that continue to benefit from this program, regardless of thier level of community financial support, (compared to the couple who have abused it) it seems we are looking at a spec of fly poop on a mountain of success....

    Whew...I feel better...

  7. #7
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    Like any government program, AFG is nothing more than the redistribution of wealth, pure and simple. The government collects money from everyone in the form of taxes, and redistributes it to a few lucky "winners." In theory, the money is supposed to flow from the wealthy to the needy, however however in many cases (if you can believe what you read in this forum), it seems to be the other way around. Of course I don't know how it's working elsewhere, but in my county, the wealthiest (comparatively speaking) are being awarded time and time again while the neediest get nothing.

  8. #8
    MembersZone Subscriber ameryfd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chief310
    Like any government program, AFG is nothing more than the redistribution of wealth, pure and simple.
    Agreed, and wouldn't it be better if the federal govt, just let everyone keep thier money locally, rather than take it at the federal level and dish it back out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chief310
    The government collects money from everyone in the form of taxes, and redistributes it to a few lucky "winners." .
    Not entirely. There are a significant number of winners in this program. I don't know the statistics since the inception of the AFG, but I'm guessing a fairly hefty percentage have recieved at least one grant......obviously, there are those that haven't recieved any, but I don't think the term "few" is entirely accurate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chief310
    In theory, the money is supposed to flow from the wealthy to the needy, .
    Not correct , and that is my point. This program was never set up as a "wealthy vs. needy" program. Means testing has not and is not mentioned anywhere in the program. From what I can tell, this program is alot more about cost-benefit than funding a fire department that is underfunded. The scoring is based not on how big or little someones budget is. I think it is much more related to budget size vs. property values. In other words if a "wealthy" district funds it's fire department at a high level then they may score better than a "poorer" fire district whose taxpayers fund thier level at a lower percentage. See what I mean? Let's say wealthy district A funds it's department at a .75 millrate and poor district B funds it's FD at a .20 millrate. My guess is that district A is going to score better, and it should IMO. Conversely, if district A only funds it's dept. at .25 and dist B funds itself at .75, then I would assume that district B would score higher.

    And remember, this is only part of the equation....there are a million other variables involved......however, I believe that "wealth vs. poor" is not really very high on the list.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chief310
    (if you can believe what you read in this forum), it
    For the most part, I do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chief310
    the wealthiest (comparatively speaking) are being awarded time and time again while the neediest get nothing.
    Comparitevly speaking, how are you judging "wealthy", how many runs per year do the "needy" have.... Are you comparing apples with apples?

    Chief...You and I have argued this several times.....hows about we arm wrestle to see who's right.....Only if I can use my old girlfriend to fill in for me....she used to be able to kick my buttt
    Last edited by ameryfd; 10-14-2005 at 05:41 PM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by jtk9203
    Does anyone feel like fire departments are turning into a welfare dependent organization?

    Our department has failed to receive a fire grant the last two years, however…..

    We bought a neighboring dept. SCBAs that were far better than ours. They were barely used and only a few years old. They always get the newest and best. They were awarded a $140,000.00 grant to a department with half our call rate, half our training, and half of our pop. Our budget is less than $25,000/yr. This department has the largest taxation base in the district.

    This year we purchased a new thermal imaging camera from a department that bought one and didn’t know their grant writer had applied for one on the grant they received for equipment. They figured they could use the extra cash.

    It sounds to me like people (departments and grant writers) who figure out the welfare system thrive, while some conservative hardworking people keep paying their taxes to fund this system.

    I tried to stay out of this thread...but as you see, I can't ignore it. LOL...It won't go away. The gripe I have with this whole 'argument' is what the writer is saying in the first post, complaining about the greed and what-not of this grant...anyway, my gripe is, the point about their 'grant writer' applying for an item of equipment - TIC - without the department's knowledge.

    First of all, the grant writer should have been working WITH the department to come up with a project, NOT apply for items on his or her own without the departments (and for that matter, BOARD of DIRECTORS or COUNCIL members Approval PRIOR TO SUBMISSION!), also, while I may assist a department in entering their information, they would certainly be required to approve of the narrative and other information PRIOR to submission (on their end!).

    For that matter, we grant writers don't work in a glass vaccuum...we have to get our info on your department (or their department) from somewhere. So, the grant writer in this case would have been unable to complete an entire application without someone's assitance & knowledge, along with alot of information. So, in my opinion, I highly doubt no one there knew a TIC was being applied for. If that truly was the case, why was no one reading the narrative and budget request as it was being entered? That's incredibly naive and trusting for someone that may not believe in your department and this grant the same way you necessarily do.

    One thing to remember, your name and your department's name is the one being entered as agreeing to the info being submitted. You're agreeing to pay a match on items being submitted on your behalf...hopefully, you're not blindly handing this project over to someone who has no vested interest in your department, without at least reading behind them prior to submission. Because that would be unfortunate for you and your department...

    Just my opinion...(YMMV)

    **Let me add, I object to the title of this thread and the entire premise that grant writers and departments that are being funded have found a 'welfare' system and I truly think there is no guilt or guile at assisting someone in doing an honest job. I offer them a service, for which I am paid. I often do this at no charge for departments, and my time on the forums is my own. If a department chooses to hire someone, attend a seminar, read a book, or write their own dang grant, nothing in this list should change how other departments look at them, or think of them.

    This grant program does exist. If someone's department is not funded they have choices in receiving more knowledge and info, or finding someone that has those. They can attend a FREE DHS 1 1/2 hr class on the program guidelines, they can read the PG themselves, they can hire someone, attend a workshop that certain members of these illustrious forums assist in, they can re-write the project, etc. The list goes on and on. No one forces any department or person to be involved in this.

    I do what I do every day, because I grew up in this 'public service' industry. I love the fire service, and even if the grant isn't around, I'll still help out at my own dept. Last time I checked college grants weren't considered welfare, and neither is this program.
    Last edited by dixiechicknc; 10-14-2005 at 11:30 PM.

  10. #10
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    Our department applied the first few years of the AFG program with no success at all. Well, they did get to peer review once. In the last year, a few of us got educated (by Kurt's columns, Brian's columns, DHS seminars, Alana's comments here, too much time reading and studying, ignoring the "fun" things in life, absorbing and learning).

    The result...an FPS award and an AFG award. Both are providing much-needed items to the community and department. Moral...
    We were a deserving department in need, and we illustrated it correctly because we INVESTED the TIME to get EDUCATED. The system can and does work, we became proof.

    The Fire Act Grant program works well for those who need what they wish to fund and for those who are willing to invest themselves to learn what it takes.
    End of opinion, time for sleep.

  11. #11
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    Greenacres2: WELL SAID

  12. #12
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    Greenacres2 says it all! This program does work if you take the time to educate yourself.
    Captain Nemo

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