Training Requirements for Fire Act Grants

Image: Defence Images
Image: Defence Images

Public Safety Grant News and Tips by, Kurt Bradley, Certified Grants Consultant

Training is becoming an increasingly stronger requirement for receiving a grant award. The following language appeared in the Official Program Guidance for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant in 2008:

The criteria development panel recommended that the AFG emphasize the importance of training in the FY 2008 program. As such, the FY 2008 application contained questions regarding the applicant’s training certification level and interest in attaining higher levels of proficiency. The answers will not affect the preliminary screening of any application, but they will be available for consideration by the technical review panelists in their evaluation. We anticipate that the technical review panelists will not recommend awarding grants for applications where membership is not fully trained (commensurate with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1001 or an equivalent State standard) and where the applicant is not seeking funding to attain a minimum level of training for their membership.

Pulling in NIMS compliance

According to my conversations and emails this language caught many by surprise but, it should not have done so. Although the emphasis for training and money to train has always been a part of the Fire Act grants, it has been ignored for quite some time. Many of you are wondering why this is being pushed now.

Since 2005 DHS has been posting the language and requiring compliance with NIMS and this of course related to training in NIMS mandates and procedures. As of October 1, 2006 it became a requirement for a grant award that you be in compliance with NIMS if you were to be eligible to receive an award for any Federal DHS grant money, regardless of career field. It should come as no great surprise that increased training was on their minds.

A way to reduce LODDs

The basis for these requirements is actually quite simple, if broken down to its roots. The Fire Act Grants exist and have a main priority to reduce the injuries and LODD for both firefighters and the civilian population by fire. Now most of us have always interpreted that to mean that we have proper gear and equipment to do so, as these were the big financial draws on our budgets. As such PPE has always been a #1 priority for the AFG and is evidenced by the billions of dollars in equipment awards that have been supplied by this grant since its inception.

Wait a minute though! The Feds are sending us billions of dollars in high tech and expensive equipment but, are they even assured that the firefighters have been properly trained to use this new high tech equipment? In the words of Bob Dylan, “the times they are a changing”.

Too many of us are dying, too many of us are becoming permanently disabled and this is even more costly to the citizens than the equipment we ask them to fund. Why should the citizens, which is who this grant money actually comes from in the form of taxes, not be assured that if they are going to give you a $250,000 new fire truck or $150,000 worth of new PPE, that you have the proper training in using it safely and employing it effectively?  What good does it do to enforce NFPA/OSHA/NIOSH regulations upon the contractors and owners of buildings and businesses where we fight these fires, if we do not enforce those same regulations upon ourselves? It is no longer a matter of “plowing the back forty” and jumping off the tractor and onto the fire truck when the siren goes off. Simply putting the “wet stuff on the hot stuff” no longer gets it. Your safety and that of your fellow firefighter is dependant upon proper equipment and the proper training to use that equipment.

Basic certifications are just common sense

It is not unreasonable at all for them to ask that if they are going to give you that equipment that your members be certified to a basic minimum standard. Our brothers in law enforcement have been asked to do this 15 years ago when training requirements went from a hundred hour police academy for a career cop or a simple 40 hour reserve/auxiliary standards course to what now amounts to 1200-2000 hours of training before you are ever allowed to carry and gun and a badge. Why should the same requirements not be enforced here?

Volunteering our time is no longer sufficient in this day of modern hazardous materials, explosive devices, terroristic acts and weapons of mass destruction. I am reminded of the words of Sean Connery in The Untouchables; “Rule #1, go home at the end of the day!”

How to Stretch Budget Dollars through Successful Grant Writing

Image: Pictures of Money –

Public Safety Grant News and Tips by Kurt Bradley, Certified Grants Consultant

Has the current economic crisis had a negative impact on your department?

Are you visiting First Responder Grants because the “budget axe” has left your department without the money it needs for equipment and training? Here’s what you can do to survive these tough economic times.

Does this situation sound familiar?

You need grant money and you want to learn how to write a winning grant, but you also need money to get grant writing training, so you can write a better grant.

Sound familiar? It’s a vicious, never-ending cycle, isn’t it? In this Fund Finder, we’re going to talk a little about how to supplement the budgetary dollars, that you still have remaining and maximize your ability to continue to meet the equipment and training needs of your department , We will discuss:

  • How to best put to use what you already have in your budget
  • How to better work with local, community resources
  • How to get not just any grants, but the right grants
  • How to find the funds to attend grant writing training

Get the training, to get the grant, to get the gear

We’re also going to talk a little more about our First Responder Grant Writing Training Classes and how they can help you write better grant applications, what that means to your department, and how you can find the money to attend training events like this.

Investing in the financial health of your agency

All of us understand that we wish to maximize the cost benefit in the expenditure of what little budget dollars that we have. The public we serve expects us to be good stewards of their tax and donation dollars. You have limited resources in the first place, or you would not have a need to find a grant program to help you out. We understand that.

One of the ways to maximize your available budget resources is to invest in training that assures you balance your already allocated budget dollars with the funds you seek from the right grant programs. This way you use the grants process in a way that does not take away from the budget dollars that you already have, but furthers your department’s spending power.

This is not something that you learn by having a few conversations with a consultant or by reading a few articles (although those all help too). To be really good at writing grants takes knowledge, a set of tools and utilizing professional grant consulting services to properly accomplish these tasks.

For example, most of us have recognized that we have to “invest” money in ourselves in order to secure our retirement. We use financial products like a 401(k) or an IRA to do this. Usually these funds are managed by professional financial advisors. Why? Because they have the know-how to stretch and provide maximum growth of your funds. What is the difference between them and us? They were trained to do it!

Maximize your ability to obtain grants for your agency

It’s the same with grants and the funding strategy that a department uses. To look at it another way, if you could put $1,000 dollars in the bank, and then go back within a year and get not $1,000, but $100,000 back, how many of you would jump at that opportunity? I know I would!

If you want to play in the “arena of grants,” you have to know the game. Just as you had to train at the “police academy” or “local fire academy” in order to do your job as a public safety professional, you must also learn the rules of engagement if you are going to be successful at obtaining grant money for your agency.

That’s where professional industry specific grant training comes in. In addition to figuring out how to best use your department’s budget dollars, you also learn to play the grants game.

Spending a small amount of money to learn how to properly play this game makes absolute perfect fiscal sense. You need to be trained on how to research and develop grant programs that the grant reviewers look upon as a strong application. That will result in your agency receiving the financial help it deserves.

Just as a bank would expect you to provide a solid business plan before approving a startup loan for your new dream business, a grant funding source wants to be sure that your program is going to accomplish what their program’s goals and priorities are. It is not overly complicated to learn how to write grant program plans and present them in a way that gets your department funded. It just requires proper knowledge and training.

OK, I want the training… But where do I get the money to attend?

Is money tight? You can still find the funds to attend our grant writing and grant management training classes, such as those we now offer through First Responder Grants. Remember: a few hundred dollars invested in training has the potential to win your department tens of thousands of dollars in grant funding.

If money seems too tight for training, try these ideas to beat the tight budget blues:

  • Talk to City Hall about covering the costs. Tell them that in exchange for sending you to the training, you will also use your grant training to help other departments in the city with their grant writing
  • Approach the local Chamber of Commerce for a donation
  • Talk with businesses, both local shops and larger companies such as Wal-Mart about possibly funding your training
  • Run a local phone fund-raising campaign with area citizens
  • Hold a raffle, sponsor a bingo game, BBQ, car wash, etc.
  • Pass the hat. Got a 10-member department? If everyone gives $15, you’re halfway to a $299 seminar
  • Coordinate with other area departments and pool resources to send people who will use the training to help all the community’s departments with their grant writing tasks

Something to remember

Business people and citizens love to see you making efforts to utilize their tax dollars in an efficient, fiscally prudent manner. Spending a little money to train someone to get thousands of dollars back in equipment and programs, means that you are not walking around to them with “hat in hand” as often. It also means you may not have to be going before the governing body’s every year, asking for another tax increase. That is every politician’s true desire!

And that, my friend, is sound, efficient, financial management of your budget dollars.

Take advantage of the “specialized” training in public safety grant writing that First Responder Grants has developed and is now offering. This is not another grant class that just gives you some generalized information; this is “meat and potatoes” target, specific information and we will help you learn how to write that grant, as well as show you copies of actual, funded applications.

Through our “in the trenches” experience as public safety employees and administrators ourselves and coupled with our combined experience as professional grant consultants we know what you need to learn and we will show you exactly how to do it! Our clients and students have won more than $175 million in funding since 2004; get your share too! See what others have had to say who have attended our training, and learn what a difference it can make for you and your department.

Learn More & Register for First Responder Grants Training Classes