Grants Program Off and Running

The application period for the 2003 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program is now open and will conclude at 5:00pm Eastern Standard Time on April 11, 2003.

FEMA and the USFA invite Fire Departments to submit an application for one of the four program areas, starting March 10, 2003. Fire Departments may apply for assistance in only one of these four programmatic areas this year. The 2003 Program Guidelines are now available for easy download at The programs, and associated activities, eligible in this year's grant program are as follows:

  1. Fire Operations and Firefighter Safety Program. Eligible activities under this function are limited to training, wellness and fitness, firefighting equipment, personal protective equipment, and modifications to fire stations and facilities.
  2. Fire Prevention Program. Eligible activities under this function include, but are not limited to, public education and awareness activities, fire codes enforcement activities, fire inspector certifications, purchase and installation of smoke alarms and fire suppression systems, wildland mitigation, and arson prevention and detection activities.
  3. Emergency Medical Services Program. Eligible activities under this function for fire-based EMS units are limited to equipment, training, and wellness and fitness initiatives. Vehicles, such as ambulances, are not eligible in this programmatic area.
  4. Firefighting Vehicles Acquisition Program. Eligible apparatus under this program include, but are not limited to, pumpers, brush trucks, tankers, rescue, ambulances, quints, aerials, foam units, and fireboats. You may apply for only one vehicle per year.

Within a programmatic area, fire departments may develop a comprehensive program to address all of their needs by applying for as many of the eligible activities as needed. For example, if a department determined its needs were in the area of fire operations and firefighter safety, the department could apply for any one of the activities under that program, or any combination of activities, or all of the activities listed within that program. If a department needed a vehicle, it can apply under the vehicle acquisition program.

The 2003 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program application is automated and available on-line at All applicants will find many built-in "help screens" and "drop-down menus" to assist fire departments throughout the application process. The USFA has established a help desk to assist you with the application process. The help desk number is 866-274-0960 and will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. EST Monday through Saturday and 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST on Sunday.

Paper applications will be accepted, but are discouraged. We are discouraging paper applications because of the inherent delays associated with processing a paper application. If you do not have access to the Internet, contact us directly (866-274-0960) to request a paper copy of the application via U.S Postal mail services.

Brian Cowan, Director of FEMA Grants Programs, said this program will looks much the same as the preceeding ones with the major difference being the amount of money distributed. Cowan pointed out a couple things that modify the $750 million number. Nearly $5 million has been deducted in an across the board federal appropriations reduction of .65%. There is also 5% available to FEMA for administrative costs. And each program sets aside money for Special Fire Prevention and Safety Grant.These grants are given to those recognized for their experience and expertise with respect to fire prevention or fire safety programs and activities. FEMA gives priority in this category to organizations that focus on prevention of fire (or fire-related) injuries to children. The amount this program has set aside for this is about $27.5 million.