The DHS has extended the deadline for SAFER grants to Jan. 15 in order to consider applications under a new policy guideline.
The original deadline was scheduled for Dec. 18.
Due to the current economic climate, grant applicants have expressed concern regarding the prohibition against using the funds to supplant local budgets, according to a statement on the Assistance to the Firefighters Grant Program's Web site.
The DHS has revisited the existing policy and Secretary Janet Napolitano has decided to allow the agency to consider petition for waivers on supplanting on a case-by-case basis.
The conditions of the new policy change include:
- 2009 SAFER grantees that lose firefighters during the period of performance and find that they are unable to back-fill vacated firefighting positions due to documentable economic hardship may petition for a waiver. In order to qualify for this waiver, the economic hardship must affect the entire public safety sector in their jurisdiction, not merely the fire department.
- The causes of the vacancies could include retirement, voluntary or involuntary separation, or calls to active duty in the reserves or National Guard.
- In the absence of a granted waiver, the policies stated in the present guidance would still apply, i.e., vacancies caused by one of the circumstances cited in #2 above do not have to be replaced and will not cause a cancellation of the grant if not replaced. However, the amount of the allowable reimbursement of SAFER positions would be reduced by the number of vacated positions, not replaced. (Example – A grantee has 20 firefighters and receives a SAFER grant for five more firefighters. One of the 20 firefighters retires and is not replaced. The grantee would then be eligible to receive reimbursement only for four firefighters instead of the original five.)
- The policy regarding the prohibition against layoffs has not changed. No waivers will be granted for layoffs and SAFER grantees are prohibited against laying-off any firefighters during the SAFER grant's period of performance.
- There is no requirement to maintain the positions past the period of performance for awards made to rehire vacated or laid off firefighters.