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  1. #1
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    Default Last of the Dear John's are out!

    It goes a little like this:


    From: firegrants@dhs.gov
    Dear Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program Applicant:

    On behalf of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), thank you for applying for a grant under the Fiscal Year 2005 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. The Department received 21,000 applications, which requested more than $2.6 billion in Federal dollars. Because of this extremely high volume of applications and the limited amount of funding available for grant awards, many applicants who demonstrated great need and worthy project proposals will not receive awards this year. We regret to inform you that we are not able to fund your application at this time.

    It is not possible for us to provide a detailed account of how each individual application was rated in the competitive process. However, we can tell you that a panel of your fire service peers reviewed your application and that our analysis is based solely on the scores submitted by the panelists. The panelists scored four elements of your application narrative: 1) clarity of the project description, 2) demonstration of financial need, 3) demonstration of benefits to be derived from the grant funds and 4) affect on daily operations. The peer review panel's scores indicate that your application was generally good and above average in all four elements, i.e., there was some information that was useful, but not sufficiently compelling to be considered for funding on its written merits. A full description of the application review process is included in the Program Guidance.

    We are hopeful that you will apply again in FY 2006. If you do choose to apply we recommend that you attend one of our grant writing workshops in order to obtain helpful guidance on expressing the necessary information in any future narratives you may submit. If you cannot attend a workshop, we will make the PowerPoint presentation from the grant writing workshop available on the grant program's website (http://www.firegrantsupport.com); please review it for some valuable insight on narrative composition. In addition, we will create a tutorial for the FY 2006 program that will be available on the website and that provides much more detail for you on the preparation of competitive fire grant applications.

    Again, we are sorry that we were unable to fund your request this year. Please check our website at http://www.firegrantsupport.com for current information on this grant program.

    Please know that the Department of Homeland Security will continue to work closely with fire service organizations to support the vital work of our Nation's firefighters. We thank you for serving and protecting your community.

    Sincerely,

    Matt Mayer
    Acting Executive Director
    Office of Grants and Training

    Back to the drawing board!


  2. #2
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    Sorry to hear it 601. Although the wording sounds a little different than in past DJs, so might be some light for next year.

    The peer review panel's scores indicate that your application was generally good and above average in all four elements, i.e., there was some information that was useful, but not sufficiently compelling to be considered for funding on its written merits.

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber batchief99's Avatar
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    Default

    We just got DJ for the SAFER also. Same format. Ah well, next year.

  4. #4
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    Exclamation Ditto here also today, on our SAFER App.

    We just got our Dear John letter today also, but it was for our SAFER application. I'm not sure whether this constitutes the 2nd round of SAFER Dear Johns, or the 3rd round of them for SAFER. Does anyone out there know which it is? And also, what are the implications of a second, versus a third round Dear John? Specifically, I'm asking this of Kurt Bradley. I remember you being able to actually divinate both probable and likely areas of narrative weakness depending on a 2nd or a 3rd round DJ. Enlighten us please, Kurt.

  5. #5
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    Default we got ours also

    some much for trying to regionalize equipment.

  6. #6
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    Actually CptMatt, I've been throwing out the denial analysis since 2001 and reposting it every year since we have more newcomers, so I guess it's about time to put it up again.

    I can't remember whether it's 2nd or 3rd round of DJs for SAFER. Either way it goes like this:

    1st round denial: no review, so either a) wrong project for dept based on statistical analysis (i.e. computer score) or b) competition. With SAFER & FP, usually the latter. Too many apps for the available funding. Add in c) laundry list for AFG apps. Remember folks: for some departments asking for PPE and SCBA constitutes a laundry list.

    2nd round denial: made PR, so either a) low computer score plus narrative not convincing enough or b) good computer score, narrative not convincing at all.

    3rd round denial: made PR, higher scores in both computer & narrative than in 2nd round, but still not high enough to make it to the magic circle.

    4th round denial: good scores, just not enough money to make it.

    Depending on how many awards their are per round determines the # of DJ rounds. Obviously the farther you make it the better your case was. While they are attempting to enlighten us with new phrases thrown into the narrative attempting to explain the cause, they are programatically generated based on the relative scores, so they may not be accurate at all. Many excellent narratives have gotten denied, and many poor ones awarded. Each application is it's own animal, which is why the assessment that is performed prior to chosing projects is so critical.

    Engine4C: regionalizing an equipment app doesn't really increase the cost-benefit. Communications & fire prevention are about the only highly competitive projects that can be turned into regional apps. PPE doesn't really translate well, and SCBA can, but there must be an overwhelming case for it for each involved department on their own for it to be an effective app. Hazmat is not a high priority in the AFG, so regionalizing that won't increase cost-benefit at all. I don't know what you applied for, so I'm just throwing out the big ones as examples.
    Last edited by BC79er; 12-14-2005 at 08:28 AM.

  7. #7
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    Default

    Got my DJ for AFG today. Letter was the same as 601's.

  8. #8
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    Talking a different DJ than I have ever gotten....

    Here is a different DJ..... as many depts that are getting the heck no from their boards who controll the $$$$$, I think I still gotta shot....

    On behalf of the Office of Grants and Training of the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS's) Preparedness
    Directorate, I would like to thank you for applying for a grant under the Fiscal Year 2005 Staffing for Adequate
    Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants. The Department received nearly 3,000 applications, which
    contained requests for over $1.14 billion in Federal dollars. Because of this extremely high volume of
    applications and the limited amount of funding available for grant awards ($65 million), many applicants who
    demonstrated great need and worthy project proposals will not receive awards this year. We regret to inform you
    that we are not able to fund your application at this time.
    It is not possible for us to provide a detailed account of how each individual application was rated in the
    competitive process. However, we can tell you that a panel of your fire service peers reviewed your
    application.Using the information that you provided throughout your application, the panelists assigned scores to
    several specific elements of your application narrative including: 1) demonstration of the benefits your
    community would derive from the grant, 2) demonstration of financial need, 3) demonstration of how your
    firefighters are now at risk and how this grant would reduce that risk, and 4) minority recruitment. As a result of
    reviewing your 2005 grant application, the panelist's scores indicate that your application was generally good
    and above average in all elements, i.e., the application had merit. Regrettably, after awarding departments with
    scores higher than the scores assigned to your department's application, we do not have enough funding to offer
    you an award at this time. However, your application scored well enough that if we identify any excess funding
    from unused administrative funds or if some of the applicants that have been offered a grant decline the offer,
    we may be able to fund your request. Be advised that if any excess FY 2005 funding does become available, it
    may not be identified until late in the Federal fiscal year. For example, last year we did not identify excess FY
    2004 funding in the Assistance to Firefighters Grants until September 2005. Therefore, if excess funds are
    identified we may be funding additional FY 2005 requests as late as September 2006.
    Again, we are sorry that we are unable to fund your request this year. Please check our website at
    http://www.firegrantsupport.com for current information on this grant program. We are hopeful that you will apply
    again in FY 2006.
    Please know that the Department of Homeland Security will continue to work closely with fire service
    organizations to support the vital work of our Nation's firefighters. We thank you for serving and protecting your
    community.
    Sincerely,
    Matt Mayer
    Acting Executive Director

  9. #9
    MembersZone Subscriber ENG5TRK's Avatar
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    Got ours. Oh well. Our boruough gives us next to jack squat, we have a truck from 1971 and a engine we just bought with what we could afford from 1985(it has a enclosed cab and seatbelts, somethign we've never had). Our grant would have consolidated four other stations SCBA. Most are all different types and makes, with ours being about 10 years old. In fact we have one pack out of service because the non intergrated PASS is broken. Doesn't the fact we care about safety, regionalization, and getting the best price for a struggling town mean anything?

    I hope the departments with 6 digit budgets, million dollar homes, and fire equipment not more than five years old can sleep at night knowing they've taken so many chances away from so many struggling departments. I know there are many departments a hundred times worse off than ours, and I'd feel better if the money went to them instead of us. I'm tottaly sick of hearing horror stories from folks who don't have a pot to **** in or a window to throw it out get turned down, and seeing wealthy departments that probably use $50's for kindling in the burn building.

    Whatever.

    Sorry for the rant.
    Last edited by ENG5TRK; 12-14-2005 at 02:36 PM.

  10. #10
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    Default

    I guess that is a good feeling! ,as I too am still hanging on for the SAFER side.

  11. #11
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    We got my department's DJ ages ago. I just found out the regional grant request we were participating in also got axed.

    That makes us 0 for 6.
    Last edited by Chief310; 12-14-2005 at 03:45 PM.

  12. #12
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ENG5TRK
    Got ours. Oh well. Our boruough gives us next to jack squat, we have a truck from 1971 and a engine we just bought with what we could afford from 1985(it has a enclosed cab and seatbelts, somethign we've never had). Our grant would have consolidated four other stations SCBA. Most are all different types and makes, with ours being about 10 years old. In fact we have one pack out of service because the non intergrated PASS is broken. Doesn't the fact we care about safety, regionalization, and getting the best price for a struggling town mean anything?

    I hope the departments with 6 digit budgets, million dollar homes, and fire equipment not more than five years old can sleep at night knowing they've taken so many chances away from so many struggling departments. I know there are many departments a hundred times worse off than ours, and I'd feel better if the money went to them instead of us. I'm tottaly sick of hearing horror stories from folks who don't have a pot to **** in or a window to throw it out get turned down, and seeing wealthy departments that probably use $50's for kindling in the burn building.

    Whatever.

    Sorry for the rant.
    I understand you are dissapointed, however I take offense to your inference that FD's like mine have taken away from "poor" dept's. My FD DOES have a 6-figure budget. Some of our equipment IS less than 5-years old. and believe it or not....we DON'T have any million dollar homes..and we have a city population of less than 3000 people oh, and by the way our county has one of the lowest per capita incomes in the entire state....so by no means are we rich.

    I am beginning to feel like a broken record on this because everytime someone gets dj'd, then we hear this us vs. them argument coming out.

    As I have said before.....It's not my communities fault that your borough won't support you. And if your borough won't support you, then why should my communities federal tax dollars go to support something that the people in your very own community won't support.

    The people in our community have stepped up to the plate, sacraficed and decided to support our Fire Department with thier money. They have gone to the limit to provide us with the funding that we need. However, even in a community such as mine, there is NOT a bottomless pit. This is where the AFG has come in and helped supplement funding for some things that we couldn't have purchased at a single time without the assistance.

    The AFG is meant to supplement funding aka ASSIST....not bail out fire departments who fail to get support from thier community. And to imply that because of that FD's like mine are taking away your chances is frankly insulting.....

    By the way....we only burn $5 bills at our burns. Don't mean to start a peeing match...but let's stop pitting FD's against each other.

  13. #13
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    ... and so it goes on and on folks. Please guys, if you are just now getting your DJ you did very well, really. You made it to peer review and got knocked out by some very minor things or, they just simply ran out of money.

    Many of you have been smart enough to be reading and asking questions in here and listening to what some of us say here. Guys, most of you apply for one grant a year. You paid attention to it for 1 month when you were writing the application and now you have been watching and waiting for the past 9 months to see if you got funded. If you had been educating yourselves during that 9 months, with what you read here, re-assessing your true department needs, getting your stats in order, checking your demogrphics , making sure you know all of the critical infrastructure in your area and then maybe attending a seminar from the guys and gals who do this 24-7-365, you might have been seeing your name as a first round winner, instead of sitting here 9 motnths later bellyaching that the program is unfair or that another department did a better job on their application than you did. Suck it up guys. Lick your wounds ,pick yourself up by your bootstraps, and get on with it here.

    You know more then 86% of our clients and students this year had been rejected for at least two - three years in a row. They all got funded this year because they stopped complaining and started listening and learning. They took affirmative action. Guys if you have tried two or three times and keep gettiing rejected, your skills are not what you think they are and you need help, ask! Seek it out!

    Brian, Alana, and I all spend countless hours in here and on our emails daily answering these questions for you and reviewing failed grant applications and all of us see the same mistakes over and over and over again.

    Lots of you that got rejection notices will again procrastinate about getting your grant team together and working on it early, so you are not rushing an application and turning in a half baked proposal. Lots of you have already contacted me ( 136 at last count) about truly finding out what you did wrong and or getting into a seminar to learn what you are doing wrong. All of us in here warned many of you not to sit idly by in a "wait and see mode" and to get with us now to start preparing for next year.

    For those of you who recently recieved the DJs, take heart. You almost made it. You probabaly don't have too many things wrong and actually, you may have nothing wrong with your grant. There were just others that were more needy or made a better case for need than you did.

    Rejection is just as much a part of the grants world as are awards. Some win, some lose and that is the nature of the beast. You have to be persistent, tenacious and have the attitutde to try, try agin. The difference between the winners and losers here is that some of those that are losing the game, seek better coaching and pay attention to what their coaches are telling them to improve their game. It is not luck that gets these funded, it is knowledge.

    You would not send a rookie into an interior attack without assuring that they know what they are doing. It is your tool box that is lacking here folks, start stocking up on the mental resources that you need to do the job. The better you train, the better you perform.
    Kurt Bradley
    Public Safety Grants Consultant

    "Never Trade Skill for Luck"

  14. #14
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    The AFG is meant to supplement funding aka ASSIST....not bail out fire departments who fail to get support from thier community.
    In the beginning of my seminars I make this point clear. The AFG purpose mentions two powerful words: SUPPORT and ENHANCE. Check out Mr Webster's Big Book and you'll find out that in order to SUPPORT or ENHANCE, something must already be present. If you are doing nothing already, you will continue to do nothing after the awards are done because you will get denied. This is a grant program, not welfare.

    As Kurt said, education is the key. I have held several seminars already with mainly people that have won more than 1 grant award. And I have yet to hear anyone say that they already knew everything I presented. I've had people that have won 3-4 years in a row tell me they were blown away with the amount that they learned. I know people that have been to Kurt's seminars and said the same thing. You have to pursue the knowledge, it will not pursue you. I fully admit that I do not know everything there is about writing grants, but I'm not sitting still either. I'm continually educating myself about what is out there and how to do things. There are too many variables in the program to make doing something one way the only option for funding. It is not easy, nor is it a lot of fun, but that's why it's called work. And it does take hard work.

    Final tip of the evening? If you fail to assess, you will just plain fail. I have a 5 pager that's about to become 7 that the people I work with fill out and get back to me to work from. And I have had over 20 already tell me they see where their previous apps have been lacking just based on that profile. One more tip before I pass out on the pillow: every department is different. If you use someone else's project or narrative, 99.9% of the time you will not succeed. Every detail does matter, and even if you are in every manner with that other department, you can count on the program being different the next year when 17,000 out of the 22,000 applications are different from the previous year. What works in one, does not automatically work in another. So don't think that because you got a last round DJ you're in like Flynn next year. It's not that easy.

    - Brian

  15. #15
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    Unhappy

    Just out of curiosity, how many folks actually received their 10Q's and a request to update the 1199A, and still got a DJ this week.
    We did get the 10Q's and the 1199A information back in Aaugust and just got the DJ on this week.
    Does this commonly happen or did we do a poor job answering the questions?
    Any info would be helpful because I thought our grant request was pretty solid, and things were looking pretty good until this week.
    Thank you in advance for the info.

  16. #16
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    In my experience with my clients I have only seen this happen on a very , very few applications. My guess would be that you simply fell in the catagory of them "running out of money" and that was probably it. The one department I saw this happen to last year, applied again with updated statistical data this year and was funded in first round of 05. You probabaly could use having one of us go over your grnat and make sure there is nothing glaringly worng or that you might could add to maybe strnagthen some of your sections but, I would not be overly critical of your efforts. You went a long way, it just needs a little polish maybe. Keep on trying dude!
    Kurt Bradley
    Public Safety Grants Consultant

    "Never Trade Skill for Luck"

  17. #17
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    You would be the first, unless you basically told them you won't be able to meet the matching requirements, you don't want the award, or you'd refuse to report to NFIRS. Other than that, my only guess is that when they found the bug in the computer software and re-ran everyone you got bumped. In which case that tells me you wouldn't have gotten the 1199A and other stuff had things been working properly. Give the person that sent you the questions a phone call. I say they owe you an explanation.

  18. #18
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    Default Sugarpop

    I think you got lost in the shuffle and probably should have contacted them back in September. 2 years ago we got our 1199A update and 10 questions in July and after answering them appropriatly didnt hear anything for a month and a half so I called them. After great frustration and several phone calls they finally determined that our responses to the 1199A and Questions had been lost and ask us to resend them, which we did. They were again lost somewhere in the grants office. We had confimation of delivery for everything that was sent by us to them both in email and nextday mail.

    Anyway to make a long story short, after several phone calls and letters and my threatening to fly out to DC and hand deliver the information to them in person, we finally got awarded our grant in January of the following year. When I was talking to them in December, still trying to get this straightened out I told them my concern was that the money would be gone before they found all of the information we had sent them numerous times.

    I honestly believe if we had not followed up on this, we would have fallen through the crack and not gotten an award we were supposed to get.

    If you got your 1199A update and 10 questions in August, your grant app scored high enough that you should have recieved an award in one of the early rounds. My guess is your info got lost and by the time it was found they didnt have the funds left or you got bumped by some of the rescored apps.

    The people in that office do a tremendous job but they are only human and subject to making mistakes just like the rest of us are when we are overwhelmed with work. Hope you havent waited to long but it might still be worth it to call them. I know I would if I were you.

  19. #19
    MembersZone Subscriber ENG5TRK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ameryfd
    As I have said before.....It's not my communities fault that your borough won't support you. And if your borough won't support you, then why should my communities federal tax dollars go to support something that the people in your very own community won't support.
    It goes both ways. Why does my community pay federal taxes to go to other local communities year after year who clearly have no problem SUPPORTING and ENHANCING on their own? When you live in a economically distressed area like mine, there's tons of support and appriciation, just not financially.

    I'm hear to learn, not to fight. I'm done.

  20. #20
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    Unhappy

    Well I just called the help desk, as that was the only number I had available. They said " just because you received the 10qs and 1199a does not mean you are going to be awarded, and that almost all applicants get those requests".
    Is this true? I find it hard to believe! Can anybody give me a reliable contact in Washington.
    I know I am pretty much done for this year. However If my app. and narrative were decent, I will re-submit next year with only minor updates.
    What do you guys think.
    Thanks

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