Grants Help Promote Prevention in Communities

Every year, the Fire Prevention and Safety grants help provide fire departments and non-profit groups the ability to promote fire safety in communities thought the country.

Fire Prevention Week 2010

The grants are part of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program and are awarded each year as part of a competitive application process. While the AFG grants provide firefighters with the equipment they need and the SAFER grants help assist departments in hiring new recruits, the purpose of the FP&S grants is much broader.

The grants are awarded both to departments and non-profits for projects aimed at reducing fire loses. Many of these projects have focuses on preventing fire-related injuries to children, seniors, firefighters and other high-risk groups.

The grants also help support research and innovations aimed at improving firefighter health and safety.

"The firefighters through AFG can get what they need from the safety standpoint, but far as community preparedness, it's a blessing to have community organizations to be able to use the funding to apply to education in the community," FEMA's Assistant Administrator of the Grant Programs Directorate Elizabeth M. Harman said.

"They are critical when it comes to teaching citizens how to be safe on their own. It's simple to teach them how to call 911 but there is a lot that can be done before firefighters arrive."

Installing smoke detectors, creating a fire escape plan and being taught techniques such as "stop, drop and roll" can save lives, according to Harman.

NPFA's theme for this year's Fire Prevention Week is "Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With!", something Harman said is an issue that grants can play a part in.

"A smoke detector doesn't cost much, but we need to have organizations willing to partner with us to make it a priority in their communities," she said.

In her previous position as the director of the Hazardous Materials and Weapons of Mass Destruction Training Department for the IAFF, Harman said she experienced first hand how FP&S grants can help organizations.

A grant was used to help fund a portion of its burn foundation that not only conducts research into burn care, but also provides burn prevention education. Each year the foundation holds its International Burn Camp in Washington, D.C. in which one burn survivor between the ages of 13 and 15 along and a professional firefighter/counselor from more than 40 regional burn camps throughout the U.S. and Canada are invited to attend the conference in the nation's capital.

"It not only helped burn victims, but firefighters who were burned as well," she said. "They funded research for burns and would reach out to burn camps and have the Burn Camp attendees share experiences with politicians to promote the program."

Harman says the grants held create opportunities for organizations to tackle projects wouldn't otherwise be able to.

"Federal dollars give you the chance to do things you may not have thought of or couldn't have afforded."