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    Default Words of Wisdom for Communications Grants

    Can anyone please share some words of wisdom on writing a winning grant for communication equipment?

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    Default Words of Wisdom for Communications Grants

    Quote Originally Posted by KEN7606
    Can anyone please share some words of wisdom on writing a winning grant for communication equipment?
    The first would be to be a very good communicator in the narrative of your grant, showing the desperate need for it.

    Describe how not having the equipment puts the FF and the general community at great risk. Describe the economic conditions of your company and the general community and that this vital equipment cannot be obtained by any other means, other than the awarding of the grant.

    If you have particular geographic conditions, where you require more powerful and specific to the grant equipment, you need to give the reviewer this information. If a situation arose where someone got hurt or the fire department was less than effective, due to the lack of this communication equipment, cite the example(s). Is this equipment necessary to work in mutual aide with other fire companies and firefighters? Does your lack of this equipment create high risk for them as well?

    In short, describe/define that his communications equipment isn't something nice to have, but necessary to have...cry, whine, plead, beg.

    Will Griffin
    http://VFD-Funding.com

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    We were very fortunate to receive a Regional Grant ( 31 departments) this year for communications equipment. In the narrative we specified 568 pagers, 389 handheld and 167 mobile radios. Additionally, there were 19 base stations and a total of 6 mountain top repeater upgrades. The total grant was for $976,600.

    The narrative was written with the theme of interoperability and the narrowband issues. If this will help in any way let me know and I will send a copy.

    Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by KEN7606
    Can anyone please share some words of wisdom on writing a winning grant for communication equipment?
    Did you get the mailer I sent out about BR79er coming in. I think you are in Columbiana County. If not pm your address and I'll get one out to you.
    Training does not make perfect. Training makes permanent!

    IACOJ probie

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    As Tom posted, and several others may end up mentioning in here after the holiday weekend is over, Communications should be a regional effort for maximum benefit. Most if not all (have to check my records) communications based awards have been regional, as that's the only real way to ensure proper interoperability among mutual aid departments as well as increasing the cost-benefit of the project. Individual departments applying for only themselves of a small part of a larger region should have really amazing reasons why all departments aren't involved. And if it's because they already upgraded, that's fine. Happens in lots of places.

    Of course this means you need to do the dirty deed: an assessment. Informal ones on a project of this type will not fly. You have to be able to cite specifics to back up your claims that what you have isn't doing the job, and more than just "we couldn't talk to each other on the fireground". That happens on every scene, with every radio out there. I'm sure I can spit out more, but after driving through 10 states for a total of 1704.5 miles over the past 2 days, I'm about fried right now.

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    As BC79er suggested, the best approach here is by all means regional in nature. Interoperability is the kley and you had better be paying attention to the specific P-25 standards and SAFECOM reqquirements. These projects take a long time to develo properly as I am sure SYSFIRE can attest.
    Kurt Bradley
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    " Never Trade Skill for Luck"

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    Quote Originally Posted by ktb9780
    As BC79er suggested, the best approach here is by all means regional in nature. Interoperability is the kley and you had better be paying attention to the specific P-25 standards and SAFECOM reqquirements. These projects take a long time to develo properly as I am sure SYSFIRE can attest.
    We are one that got $136K on an individual (not a regional) app. Our main focus was building our communications request into part of a total Personal Accountability System. By showing the need to upgrade our radios to ANSI P-25 and Safecom compatability, adding channels to allow for interoperability, aquiring our own fireground frequency and binding it all together with a radio based Accountability system I think we were able to show our individual need.

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    The regional Grant concept needs to be started right now for next years AFG. The logistics of a project of this magnatude were overwhelmming....but the end result is well worth the effort.

    Do you have a chief's Association? Especially in the more rural areas and counties, the first step is to propose a unified effort to upgrade the entire county's communications system, if there is one in place...if not then develop one.

    Getting folks to agree on something was another hurdle...so we formed a committee and made our own rules as to how everyone would play. Input from ALL the jurisdictions is a must!!! However, someone has to make the final agree to agree...that be me.

    Two years ago I wrote a small communications grant for 5 mobile and 20 handheld radios, 1 base radio and 20 pagers. I received that AFG based on the same theme of interoperability and the big issue of narrowbanding. It can be done on the smaller scale but I think that in my smaller grant I lucked out because the NB issue was then the topic of what was comming down and interoperability had just surfaced as a buzz word....gotta love dem buzz wurds.

    Again, I would say get together with you auto and mutual aid depts. and toss around the concept. Their interest might suprise you.

    Good Luck

    Tom

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    My sources indicate that the main focus of AFG regional grants will be giving priority to "communciations grants" that "truly involve total interoperablity on a regional basis". Both departments that I got seprate awards for this year in my county, on communications issues, focused on them being the last departments "outside" the loop and that the loop needed to be closed by approval of their projects.
    Kurt Bradley
    Fire/EMS/EMA Grant Consultant
    " Never Trade Skill for Luck"

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    Quote Originally Posted by SYFIRE
    We were very fortunate to receive a Regional Grant ( 31 departments) this year for communications equipment. In the narrative we specified 568 pagers, 389 handheld and 167 mobile radios. Additionally, there were 19 base stations and a total of 6 mountain top repeater upgrades. The total grant was for $976,600.

    The narrative was written with the theme of interoperability and the narrowband issues. If this will help in any way let me know and I will send a copy.

    Tom
    Tom

    I would like to get a copy of this narrative if possible.

    Thanks

    Mike

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    Default Communications Grants

    Quote Originally Posted by ktb9780
    My sources indicate that the main focus of AFG regional grants will be giving priority to "communciations grants" that "truly involve total interoperablity on a regional basis". Both departments that I got seprate awards for this year in my county, on communications issues, focused on them being the last departments "outside" the loop and that the loop needed to be closed by approval of their projects.
    Yep, with the declining recruiting/retention issues of VFDs nationally, there is going to be a push towards mergers/consolidations/regionalizations; thus communications is no doubt the first step. DHS also learned some valuable lessons from what happend to FDNY on 9-11.

    Will Griffin
    http://VFD-Funding.com

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    One of the primary focus points for creation of DHS, as an umbrella organization, was to increase "interoperability". Up until last year, when regional applications starting getting pushed by USFA, communications was still being solved via the "bandaid" method i.e; give radios here and there and not insist upon them being truly interoperable. That is why the SAFECOM and P-25 standards were put forth and why now, they are pushing that regionals will recieve priority over individual applications which do not truly address interoperability issues.
    Kurt Bradley
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    " Never Trade Skill for Luck"

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    Default Any other sources....

    Does anyone have any specifc leads on other sources of grants for communications equipment. We are a rural county in upstate NY, so I don't think that DHS grants would be an option with the increased focus of spending the "terror" monies in more populated areas....

    Any thoughts or leads would be appreciated.

    Thanks!
    Ahwaga Ladder Co# 5 - "We Still Live"

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    Moreau407

    All I need is an email address

    Tom

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    Scott, depending on what exactly you're looking for (few pieces, complete overhaul, etc, etc) there are a handful of other options, but DHS is the main source for communications. The one with the deepest pockets anyway. Rural location won't matter much if it's a regional effort, that will almost be required on anything done because interoperability is key for all programs. CEDAP is on to hit up for the comm switch, I can't remember the exact closing date on this phase but it should be coming up soon.

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    Scott

    You would do well to listen to BC79er

    Our county is 110 miles in width and 60 miles in length...total population is approximately 46,000

    We have 28 fire department jurisdictions scattered to all four corners. You really can't get much more rural than that.

    If your situation is comparable to ours I would say to go the Regional path.

    Tom

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    AFG regional is just about your ONLY viable solution here guy.
    Kurt Bradley
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    " Never Trade Skill for Luck"

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    Quote Originally Posted by BC79er
    Scott, depending on what exactly you're looking for (few pieces, complete overhaul, etc, etc) there are a handful of other options, but DHS is the main source for communications. The one with the deepest pockets anyway. Rural location won't matter much if it's a regional effort, that will almost be required on anything done because interoperability is key for all programs. CEDAP is on to hit up for the comm switch, I can't remember the exact closing date on this phase but it should be coming up soon.
    That would be early January, like the 3rd, if I am not mistaken. (same as CDC - smoke detector/prevention grant)... So, FD's that are interested need to get started on this (CEDAP)...

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    CEDAP closes on January 13, 2006.

    http://www.chiefsupply.com/grants/le_cedap.html
    Kurt Bradley
    Fire/EMS/EMA Grant Consultant
    " Never Trade Skill for Luck"

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    May I throw out another point of view on communications?

    What if a dept. were to write a grant to get the infastructure of a system that people could join in on, yet would still address the specific dept's need.

    I dont know if I am making more or less of an argument for regional approach but I know that is what two different dept's near me have done; one for $170,000 and one for over $350,000.

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    If you mean that one department is already the central dispatch for many others, then it's still a regional effort in upgrading their systems and then expecting the others to apply on their own to fund their radios and pagers to join in. It is another way of handling the same problem, without all of the administration falling on one department.

    IMHO it doesn't rank as high as a complete regional buy-everything-at-once solution because there are no guarantees that the others can afford to join in, especially if they are depending on grants to fund their stuff. Script the whole solution at once and Git-R-Done in one shot.

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    Default Copy of Narrative....

    Brian & Tom,

    Thanks for the words of wisdom..... currently trying to bring the issue to the forefront for our county as the situation is truly "hosed". At one recent incident we needed to shout out the windows to each other because the radios would not work. We currently have a mix of high band/ low band, presenting many interoperability issues at both large and small incidents..... Starting to address the problem through the local Chiefs Advisory Board (via my Chief), but due to some... lets call it Old Fashioned reasoning.... I am not getting alot of buy in. As our department is the county seat, I would be more than willing to be the sponcering department for a local solution, but not really sure where to start. The other end is that I don't want to start down a road and waste a grant/ my time and effort if the rest of the chiefs are not going to buy in and come up with a standardized fix to the communications problem..... enough ranting :-)

    I guess a couple more questions come to mind after re-reading some of the posts....

    1) - Who do you contact to assist in developing a solution that you would write to? Do the radio manufacturers compete feasibility/ need assessment type studies for you or do you need to contract someone special to do this type?

    2) - Is there a specific method to reflecting that you have the total support of the county departments, or is this just something that you reflect and detail in the writing of the narrative?

    Tom, if I could get a copy of your narrative and possibly a list of the equipment that you were able to secure via your grant it would be GREATLY appreciated!

    scottab@stny.rr.com
    Ahwaga Ladder Co# 5 - "We Still Live"

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    The fact that you are all working off different frequencies is a good starting point; goes to the whole interop. problem.

    As far as needs assessment; your local radio vendor can provide you with plastic circles to illustrate transmitter range/ reciever coverage etc. The all you do is sit down and figure out coverage; with radio vendor to help tie up loose ends.
    This will give you a starting point for the infastructure, and then the PG states 1 portable for every riding position.
    I am not sure what standard is for mobile radios; we applied for 34 port/ 6 bank chargers and batt's and got what we needed last year.

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    1) Odds are since you'll be working with a vendor or reseller versus a manufacturer's rep you may not get much help since some aren't very willing to spend the time with no sale at the end. Many are, and I call that good customer service, but sometimes the lack of assistance on their part is due to too much work and not enough people. I know all about that. Anywho, if I remember your original post about being northern NY (ie in a mountainous area), those circles on the map probably aren't going to be accurate. I was Communications Officer for my dept outside Philly when the county changed from 46mHz to 800 digital trunked. Let's just say there were many holes where holes weren't supposed to be in every area of the county. So while looking at a map is a nice quick and dirty way to figure out what is needed, getting out there with loaner type equipment is really the only way. Either that or over-equip to reduce the margins of error. That's where Comm Engineers come in handy, but also something that you normally have to pay for. Putting 800 sites where low band ones are sometimes doesn't work, so you end up paying for more than you bargained for during installation and testing. Always better to have the research done up front.

    As far as a needs assessment for a solution in general, then some of us can help out there, to expand on what you said about having multiple band types and whatnot.

    2) I suggested to several DHS folks over the past couple of years that the app be changed to reflect an individual or regional app. Being a programmer, I know it will take a good bit of coding to make it happen, so it won't be fast, but several have told me it is something they are working on. It would reduce effort on their part because now they have to scan all narratives to realize that it is a regional app. All involved departments need to be listed in the narrative until that changed. Support of the entire region isn't necessary, especially if you have some already on an APCO25 compliant system since they won't need the stuff. But for those that do, it doesn't bode well for the probability of success if some aren't in on the solution because that pokes holes in the interoperability benefit argument.

    - Brian

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    Scottab96

    I emailed you the grant narrative and also a copy of the memorandum of understanding that we developed. It kind of helps set the rules, and the accountability to each department is a little more defined. Also it somewhat answers your #2 question which is also written in the grant as I think you will see.

    The way I did it was to present a proposal to our county Chiefs Association. They all agreed to not apply for communications in a separate grant, agreed to a 5 percent match, and gave me pretty much authority to act as the facilitator.

    We selected the department with the least amount of a tax base, and annual budget so as to allow us to use the demographics of that jurisdiction’s (population) which allowed for a 5% vs. a 10% match....way cool.

    Since I have been most fortunate with the AFG...This is my 4th grant (3 for my dept. and the bigee for the county), I was able to glean a lot of info from the FEMA, now DHS, folks that I had worked with prior which was a great assistance in the putting together all the stages.

    Hope this helps some. If there is anything else you need as far as a direction to start, give a holler. Its a great feeling to know that you had a major impact in the future of so many departments...we can all talk to each other now.

    Good Luck

    Tom

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