FEMA AFG fire grant program update

Each month, the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program from FEMA supplies information relative to the management of current grants, as well as helpful details on upcoming grant opportunities. 

In this month’s update

  • FY 2021 AFG Programs Status Update 
  • FY 2022 AFG Programs Status Update 
  • Programmatic and Financial Reports are Due 
  • Did You Know? – AFGP Criteria Development Panel 
  • November Fire Prevention Message – Cooking Safety 
  • Grant Management Training – GMTA Fundamentals of Grants Management Course 
  • Closeout Report Function Released 
  • AFGP Success Stories 

FY 2021 AFG Programs Status Update 

Most 2021 AFGP applicants that did not receive an award have received a turndown letter. However, award announcements are still underway for all three programs. Even though FY 2021 ended Sept. 30, 2022, awards will continue to be made because of the $300 million in supplemental funds provided through the American Rescue Plan Act (AFG-$90 million, Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response-$200 million and Fire Protection & Safety-$10 Million). Awards are expected to continue into February. As award determinations are finalized, notification will be sent to grant recipients. Award information will also be posted on the FEMA website as each round is announced.  

Turndown letters will be sent out in concurrence with the final rounds of awards being announced. If you receive a turndown letter and would like more information, please contact your Regional Fire Program Representative. 

AFG Award Listings: Assistance to Firefighters Grants | FEMA.gov 

SAFER Award Listings: Staffing For Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) | FEMA.gov 

FP&S Award Listings: Fire Prevention and Safety | FEMA.gov 

FY 2022 AFG Programs Status Update 

Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Application Period – Open through Feb. 10, 2023 

The FY 2022 Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) application period will close on Friday, Feb. 10, 2023, at 5 p.m. ET

Please review the application assistance documents at FY 2022 Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Application Guidance Materials | FEMA.gov

Did You Know? 

Fire Departments and Nonaffiliated EMS organizations have funding restrictions pertaining to the AFG Program. 

The total amount of funding a fire department or nonaffiliated EMS organization recipient may receive under an AFG Program award is limited to the maximum amounts set by § 33(c)(2) of the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974, as amended (15 U.S.C. § 2229(c)(2)). These award limits are based on two factors: (1) population served; and (2) a 1% aggregate amount of available grant funds. 

The population of the jurisdiction served by the recipient will determine the maximum amount of AFG Program funding a recipient is eligible to receive but no recipient may receive an award that exceeds 1% of available grant funds in FY 2022, or $3.2 million. FEMA may waive this aggregate cap in individual cases where FEMA determines that a recipient has an extraordinary need for a grant that exceeds the aggregate cap. FEMA may not waive the statutory funding caps based on population. 

 The following table explains the maximum funding that a recipient may receive in FY 2022:

Population of the jurisdiction served by the recipientMaximum award in FY 2022Statutory waiver available subject to extraordinary need?
100,000 or fewer peopleNo more than $1 millionNone available
100,001 – 500,000 peopleNo more than $2 millionNone available
500,001 – 1,000,000 peopleNo more than $3 millionNone available
1,000,001 – 2,500,000 peopleNo more than $3.2 millionYes, but no more than $6 million
More than 2,500,000 peopleNo more than $3.2 millionYes, but no more than $9 million

February Fire Prevention Message

Space heaters are a leading cause of home heating fires. 

Key messages:

  • Space heaters need space. Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn.
  • Turn them off when you leave the room or go to bed.
  • Plug space heaters directly into the wall outlet.

Grants Management Technical Assistance Training

The K0705 Fundamentals of Grants Management is a virtual course offered by FEMA to grant recipients. Although not a requirement for accepting an AFG award, the course is designed to assist organizations strengthen their grant management practices. Upon completion of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Improve collaboration among policy, program and financial staff to integrate grant management functions;  
  • Identify applicable regulations and navigate and apply the Code of Federal Regulations, including 2 CFR Part 200;
  • Apply proven business practices related to the grant lifecycle to increase efficiency and meet grant management priorities, such as strategic planning, organization, program implementation, staff training, monitoring, reporting and audits;
  • Develop or revise policies, procedures, and practices in critical areas of grants management, such as monitoring, procurement, source documentation, payments, and equipment inventory; and
  • Prepare for federal monitoring and sub-recipient monitoring.

Upcoming Course Offerings

Orientation DatesCourse DatesCourse DatesCourse Host
Mar. 14, 15, 16Mar. 20 – Apr. 13, 202310 a.m. ETOpen Enrollment
Apr. 18, 19, 20Apr. 24 – May 18, 20232 p.m. ETOpen Enrollment
Jun. 28, 29 and Jul. 6Jul. 10 – Aug. 3, 202310 a.m. ETOpen Enrollment
Aug. 2, 9, 10Aug. 14 – Sept. -7, 20232 p.m. ETOpen Enrollment

To Apply: National Emergency Training Center Online Admissions Application (fema.gov)

Questions: [email protected]

Closeout Report Function Now Available in FEMA GO

The closeout module has been released in FEMA GO for recipients that have received AFG awards from 2018 to 2020. Recipients with awards that are no longer open will have 90 days to complete the module. If an award still has an open period of performance (POP), the recipient will have to wait until the POP ends to initiate the closeout process and will have 90 to 120 days to complete the process. Do not start your closeout if there is a chance that more funds or an amendment could be requested, as these functions will no longer be available. A tutorial on the closeout process is available by clicking here.

For closeout help, contact your Regional Fire Program Representative or the AFG Helpdesk toll-free at 1-866-274-0960 or email [email protected]

AFGP Success Story – University of Texas at Austin

Awarded items: Fire Prevention and Safety Research and Development Grant to study the Emerging Hazards of Battery Energy Storage System Fires

Submitted by: Professor Ofodike Ezekoye Ph.D., P.E., University of Texas at Austin

In April 2019, an unexpected explosion of batteries on fire in an Arizona energy storage facility injured eight firefighters. More than a year before that fire, FEMA awarded a Fire Prevention and Safety, Research and Development grant to the University of Texas at Austin to address firefighter concerns about safety when responding to fires in battery energy storage systems of all sizes. Professor O.A. ”DK” Ezekoye is working with other engineers, firefighters, and industry partners to develop a better understanding of the magnitude of the fire hazards. 

There has been a dramatic increase in the use of battery energy storage systems (BESS) in the United States. These systems are used in residential, commercial, and utility scale applications. Most of these systems consist of multiple lithium-ion battery cells. A single battery cell (7 x 5 x 2 inches) can store 350 Whr of energy. Unfortunately, these lithium cells can experience thermal runaway which causes them to release very hot flammable, toxic gases. In large storage systems, failure of one lithium cell can cascade to include hundreds of individual cells. The hot flammable gases can result in an explosion, or a very difficult to extinguish fire. 

Although the fire service routinely responds to explosive scenarios, such as those associated with natural gas leaks, standard operating procedures do not exist for scenarios like a battery energy storage system for which there is no way to cut off the gas supply. The fire service is unaware and inexperienced with the fire and explosion hazards of BESS. 

The FP&S R&D study started with a laboratory test in which a single cell failed in one commercial storage module containing a total of 14 cells. In one of the early tests, when a single cell failed, smoke and gases were released that ignited and burned intensely for 12 seconds. Toxic smoke and gases filled the test space.

The research team has subsequently connected small-scale battery failure test results to large scale fire and explosion consequences associated with these systems. Through this research, one of the biggest lessons learned for the fire service is that the utilities and commercial entities that own large battery systems are equally unfamiliar with the potential fire hazards. As well, there remain many questions about the toxicity of the battery vent gas. 

From 2014 to 2018, residential BESS installations have increased by 200% annually. Further research into residential BESS hazards is essential as BESS hazards could eventually become a regular part of dwelling fires. 

According to Professor Ezekoye, the results of this study will lead to wider awareness of the BESS hazards, a greater understanding of the underlying fire behavior of these systems, and eventually the development of safe standard operating guidelines and procedures for firefighters. 

Link: www.UTFireResearch.com 

For more information on Fire Prevention & Safety Grants including how to apply, please visit https://www.fema.gov/fire-prevention-safety-grants