I am looking for winning turnout gear grant narratives to help in completing our 2006 grant application, can any one help?
I am looking for winning turnout gear grant narratives to help in completing our 2006 grant application, can any one help?
I went for some dramatic flourishes, but I figured the reviewers would possibly remember the application if it described the request well but still had some "flair" (I hate that term, but you know what I mean). Anyway, we were funded in that ridiculously huge round 1. In fact, our little county had four funded in that round and another later in the year for a total of five (3 tanker trucks and 2 for PPE).
For what it's worth, here's the narrative. Hope you find something useful in it.
1. Project Description and Budget
Summary: Project to fund purchase 20 sets of Personal Protective Equipment and laundry equipment for an all-volunteer fire department that has never had new turnout gear.
Transforming a Rural Fire Department
Howell Volunteer Fire Department in George County, Mississippi, faces many of the same challenges as other rural, all-volunteer fire departments in poorer parts of the country. As recently as a couple of years ago, a structure fire alarm in Howell’s service area would result in two or three firefighters using a 30 year old fire truck to stream water on the fire from outside. Mutual aid responding units would typically show up a little later, sometimes with full turnout gear and SCBA, and might attempt a direct attack if the fire wasn’t already too far gone. For Howell firefighters, an old fire coat, a pair of boots, and maybe a helmet were considered plenty of protection for standing outside and spraying water. Howell has never had complete NFPA compliant turnout gear and has always made-do with a worn-out collection of mismatched pieces from other departments. For a small fire department 25 miles out of town, it was good enough.
Fast forward to today and things are very different. Howell rolls a new Class-A pumper. We have several new members who are young and enthusiastic enough to “give the old-timers a break” as overheard recently from a founding member, who is in his fifties. These new members are better trained than in the past, and several are currently enrolled in the state Firefighter I volunteer certification course. Our new chief is a career fireman in a city fire department. Howell VFD recently purchased reconditioned SCBA equipment, and we are trained to use it in a direct attack on a fire. All of this is the result of a lot of hard work by the members to transform Howell VFD from casual group of occasional firefighters with an old fire truck into a well-equipped firefighting unit.
All of these improvements are progress, but we have a major problem: None of our firefighters have full turnout gear. Two members have pieces that came from a county effort to provide turnout gear to fire departments several years ago. It was the lowest-cost gear they could get and is no longer in good shape. The chief has his own from his day job, and he has provided a few other firefighters with second-hand pieces from his department. A few others select theirs from a rack of long coats, hip boots, and worn-out trousers that belong in a museum instead of a firehouse. We have more people who are being trained in interior and direct attack on fires, but we don’t have turnout gear to outfit them with. We also are working hard to recruit new members, but it’s hard to keep members in a volunteer department when you can’t even provide basic personal protective equipment. One of our best new firefighters stuck around for months until we finally had a set donated from a larger city department to issue him; most people aren’t that patient. We believe that part of our past problems with retention have been a direct result of our inability to outfit them.
It’s difficult enough to recruit someone to an unpaid, dangerous, dirty job without the handicap of being unable to sufficiently provide for their safety. Keeping experienced firefighters around will be much easier when they see the commitment that the department has to their safety by investing in new turnout gear.
The majority of the grant funding we are seeking is for a project to purchase 20 full sets of turnout gear including coat, pants, boots, helmet, suspenders, hood, and gear bag. We also are requesting funding to purchase commercial laundry equipment as recommened by the manufacturer of the gear to properly maintain it. This will allow us to fully outfit our entire department for the first time and have a few sets of gear in reserve to issue to the new members we anticipate recruiting this year. Because of the streamlined grant process this year, we have also requested funding for some other miscellaneous equipment directly related to firefighter safety.
The laundry equipment will consist of a front-loading commercial washer and a supply of approved cleaning agent to allow us to follow NFPA 1851, which states in part “5.1.3 Soiled or contaminated elements shall not be brought into the home, washed in home laundries, or washed in public laundries unless the public laundry has a dedicated business to handle fire fighting protective clothing…5.1.4 Commercial dry cleaning shall not be used as a means of cleaning or decontaminating ensembles and ensemble elements.1.5 When contract cleaning or decontamination is used, the contract cleaner shall demonstrate, to the organization's satisfaction, procedures for cleaning and decontamination that do not compromise the performance of ensembles and ensemble elements.”
These standards rule out any method of cleaning turnout gear other than by hand or with our own specialized laundry equipment. We will use the routine cleaning and inspection as the basis of a program to ensure that turnout gear is properly inspected, cleaned, repaired, and retired from service when it reaches the end of its useful life, thus ensuring that our firefighters are not injured due to sub-par personal protective equipment. We also plan to extend the use of our cleaning equipment and maintenance program to the other departments in our district who also have no equipment to clean their gear.
Additionally, we are requesting funding for a few other pieces of equipment under the new streamlined grant guidelines. These pieces of equipment are fundamental for basic firefighting and safety, but have been beyond our financial resources so far. A piercing nozzle is essential for fighting fires in mobile homes, of which our district has a high concentration. We lack any traffic signs and traffic directing lights, which make our fire scenes and water fill operations very dangerous on narrow, curvy, country roads.
2. Financial Need : FEMA is Our Only Hope for Getting the Gear We Need.
We directly serve an area of 35 square miles with approximately 800 residents and 300 households. Additionally, we automatically respond to aid 3 other small fire departments in a Fire Grading District that covers 93 square miles and serves 4300 residents in 1100 households. Our only local funding is a 1.07 mill property tax levy, which must be distributed among 14 local fire departments. The result is that each department receives approximately $500-$1000 per year in regular direct funding for discretionary spending, which does not allow an operating budget. George County normally reimburses us for money we spend on fuel, maintenance, and repair on our equipment, but is not able to fund many expansion or equipment purchases. The department occasionally receives extra funding from the county from insurance rebate money from the state, but these disbursements are quite small and irregular, and so can not be counted on for the budget.
Even though we may not enjoy the enthusiastic support of our local government, the Board of Supervisors for George County has committed to providing the matching funds for this project if we are successful in our grant request. It has been made clear to us that the county’s budget will not encompass turnout gear. The county has already committed to spend its limited fire protection funds on long-promised expansion to two remote departments and replacing the last two non-certified pumper trucks on the other side of the county with Class A pumpers. There is literally no chance they’ll find thousands of dollars per department for new turnout gear any time in the near future.
We are dependent on donations and fundraising for any costs outside of maintaining the equipment we have, and much of our equipment has been generously donated by larger departments when they secure funding for more modern replacements. The expense of new gear has been overwhelming for fundraising efforts so far, so we have focused on smaller, more publicly visible projects such as a new water pump system and renovating a building shared by the fire station and the community.
Our department is fortunate to have among it’s members several skilled craftsmen who can weld, burn, fabricate, maintain and repair equipment, carpenter, wire, and do many of the other things that larger departments have budgets to outsource. We do our own marketing, mailings, grant-writing, and even yard maintenance and painting at the firehouse. In most cases, if it gets done, we have to do it ourselves, usually with donated materials and supplies. However, some critical equipment falls outside the scope of any do-it-yourself project, and personal protective equipment would be at the top of that list.
If we fail to obtain a FEMA grant for turnout gear this year, we’ll be forced to concentrate most of our future fundraising efforts to that area, which means the most we can hope to accomplish is to equip our firefighters one at a time over the course of several years, and then begin replacing the older gear almost immediately. Our only other source for the gear is our chief’s regular employment at a full-time department. If they happen to get funding for new gear, we might be able to get some of their old gear to outfit some of our firefighters.
3. Cost-Benefit: Turnout Gear = Expensive…Firefighters’ Lives = Priceless!
Turnout gear is the most basic protective measure for firefighters. It is the single most important piece of equipment to prevent injuries and deaths, but it is also expensive to outfit a department properly. Viewed from another perspective, for a fraction of the cost of one pumper truck, our entire department can be outfitted with modern turnout gear at once. There are many other projects we intend to pursue and other grant areas we will work on in the future, but PPE has by far the largest benefit for the cost at this point.
This equipment will benefit more than our own little community. We are part of a larger Fire Grading District of about 4300 residents, and respond with automatic mutual aid to anything larger than a minor grass fire to the 3 other departments in our district. The small size of the other departments means that our firefighters can expect to participate in the main fire attack even if we must travel several miles to the scene. In addition, we are often called upon to help neighboring districts in the same county or even into an adjacent county or state. We never hesitate to respond with everything we have when we’re called. We’ve got SCBA and a Class-A pumper truck now with trained firefighters who can execute an interior attack, but we do not have enough safe turnouts to put on everyone who is qualified to go in. Adding proper gear to our trained firefighters means that we can immediately join in with the department running the scene and provide much-needed assitance.
The Howell community is also somewhat isolated by geography and boundary lines. The only road directly into Howell from our neighboring county departments crosses a river that forms our western boundary and adds considerable time to the trip for mutual aid. To our immediate east we are bordered by Mobile County, Alabama, with which we have been unable to get a mutual aid agreement. To our south is the river and Jackson County, Mississippi, who will come to our aid, but whose fire departments are located some distance from us and are not automatically dispatched to us without a specific call for help. The result is that Howell is on its own, at least initially, for many fires, and it’s critical that we are able to put as many of our members into the fire attack as possible.
Our Fire Grading District also includes an elementary school with 578 children. It is of utmost importance the we be able to assist other departments in conducting a search and rescue and interior attack in the case of a fire at the school. Without proper gear, we may not be able to perform that task if called upon. The extended district also includes an industrial park with a storage tank manufacturing facility, a railyard, a creosote pole treating plant, and several other small industrial sites.
Additionally, despite continued effort, George County Mississippi continues to have one of the highest concentrations in America of illegal methamphetamine labs, and they are typically discovered only when they explode. We also have farms with various chemicals and fuel storage. We have three major highways running through the county, and many railroad crossings on a rail line that carries a variety of hazardous material. Most of the houses that burn are old, solid pine structures that literally burn like kindling wood or manufactured homes that also go up very quickly. Asking our volunteers to respond to these kinds of inherently dangerous scenes without basic personal protective equipment is simply unacceptable.
4. Statement of Effect: Becoming a Modern Volunteer Fire Department
This grant will have a profound affect on the day-to-day operations of our department for years to come. For the first time we’ll wear new gear and have the confidence that it will protect us when we use it in accordance with our training. Our current lack results in difficulty in outfitting firefighters at a fire scene and jeopardizes the safety of those actively fighting the fire. Even today, we often fight fires with only a few members in coats and boots…or no turnouts at all. The lack of gear makes it difficult for fresh arrivals to assist at a scene or even to distinguish a firefighter from bystanders. When we do have the option of mounting an interior attack, we rarely have enough firefighters on scene with proper gear, and so have to resort to an indirect attack or unacceptably risky tactics
Only a few years ago, Howell was the poor relation in the county and (we suspect) a source of some amusement for the other county fire departments. We had the oldest, most dilapidated trucks, the worst equipment, the poorest collection of turnout gear, and weak participation from the community. In fact, for a couple years, there was some question whether the department was even in existence. With the tireless labor of many new and old members and the generous assistance of various grants, fundraisers, dontations, and a lot of hard work, we have turned the department around. Going forward, we are working to modernize our brush truck and tanker with donations of money, labor, and materials. We have recently been given a surplus tank to use for elevated water storage to alleviate some of our water supply problem. Howell VFD is working help to help ourselves become a better fire department.
Transforming our department has required a lot of hard work and persistence. Turnout gear is our largest remaining hurdle in transforming Howell Volunteer Fire Department, with the significant help of FEMA, into a safe, efficient fire department of which our community and members can be proud.
When reading that post, I realized that it was a slightly different version than the one we actually submitted. We took out the laundry equipment and I corrected some typos (DOH!). Otherwise, it was substantially what you read above. I forgot to mention that I followed quite a bid of good advice from these forums and worked in lots of vivid depictions of our lack as well as good arguments as to why this grant would benefit more than just a few people. That same strategy worked a few years ago for a successful pumper truck grant.
Chief, Howell VFD.
E-mail me and I will send you my winning grant for PPE...
Here's a link to our full narrative - Funded 20 full sets of PPE in '05
Thanks to Brian aka BC79er for hosting this.
Good luck with your application and grant in '06.
I'm in Marion just north side of Meridian.
I have something that might help.
E-Mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Does anyone have any turnout gear narratives that you may be willing to share. I've been working on my narrative for awhile now and would like to compare it to something to see if I am on the right track. I can't wait for this to be over. I've completed a vehicle app and now trying to finish our application for turnout gear. Anyway if anyone has anything they are willing to share I would like to see it.
I have a successful SCBA grant from a few years ago if anyone needs help in that category.....always willing to help!!
I'll take a good narrative on a new apparatus if anybody is willing to share my e-mail is email@example.com