Will the border wall take your fire grant funding? New law says no

FDs, if you’ve been worried about grant funding getting reallocated for the border wall, some recent news should set you at ease.

President Trump has signed into law the Consolidated Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriations Act. This $333 billion spending package includes multi-million dollar increases to many grant programs. Here’s a breakdown of funding levels for various grants and agencies:

 * AFG and SAFER have been funded at $350M FOR EACH PROGRAM, which is level funding from 2018

 * State Fire Assistance program funded at $81 million, which is up $1 million from FY18

 * State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP) funded at $525 million, which is $18 million up from FY18

 * United States Fire Administration (USFA) funded at $44.179 million (plus another $1.5 million for National Fire Academy infrastructure improvements). FY18 funding was $42.9 million

 * Urban Area Search and Rescue System funded at $45.18 million, which is $10.15 million up from FY18

 * Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) funded at $640 million, which is $10 million up from FY18

* Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) program funded at $17 million, which is $1 million up from FY18

The upshot?

These crucial grant programs are healthy. You can safely ignore any doom-and-gloom nonsense circulating in the media or around the station table.

If you haven’t already, get working on those SAFER applications, start prepping for FY19 AFG, and look into any other Federal program that might benefit your department.

Congress and the President have done their job on allocating the funds. Now it’s your turn to get to work on winning those grants!

The gift: How does the Federal Government Shutdown affect the grant programs?

The Fund Finder News

by Kurt Bradley, Senior Grants Consultant

Our Federal government is now in the longest shutdown in our country’s history. Concerned departments nationwide have been calling me and asking the same question: “Is this government shutdown going to affect grants?”

No simple answer

I wish there was a simple answer to that question. Unfortunately there is not. I will, however tell you what to expect. The news here may be a little better than what you expected, as long as you look at it from the right perspective.

First, everyone needs to take a deep breath. Remember, this is not the first time the government has shut down. Nor will it be the last.

Shutdowns have happened before

Partisan politics aside, the government has endured several past shutdowns (or “spending gaps,” to more accurately label them). In fact, there have been 18 government shutdowns since 1976. Each one has lasted anywhere from several days to several weeks.

Key point: Not one shutdown has resulted in any incidents deemed catastrophic in nature.

I personally have been a taxpaying adult, either employed by the government directly (military service), or in local government, or the private sector. I can say that none of those shutdowns ever affected me significantly either professionally nor personally.

How the shutdown is affecting federal grants

So, what is the shutdown doing to affect the grant programs? Well, I can tell you that the staff at FEMA, in the offices that cover our primary grants, are operating on a skeleton staff. Historically, during these shutdowns, several things will be or are occurring:

  1. They are operating with a skeleton staff, so emails may not be answered, phone calls are probably not being returned, amendments may not be moving through approval/disapproval status, EHP reviews are on hold and, certainly, no new grant programs will open while the shutdown is in effect.
  2. Drawdowns of awarded money may be delayed.
  3. Previously stated opening dates for programs will be pushed back.
  4. Peer review panels for the 2018 AFG grants will be delayed (as of this writing the 2018 AFG peer review panel has been moved to Feb. 24, 2019).
  5. SF425 and semi-annual performance reports will continue to be due on their respective dates.

The gift you’ve been given

Now, as soon as the shutdown is resolved things will get back on track and return to business as usual. But the news is not all that bad here folks, if you take a different perspective.

You have been given the gift of time!

The one thing that you have the least amount of control over as a public safety employee is your time. This shutdown is affording you additional time to prepare for 2019 grants. Remember, if you fail to prepare, you can prepare to fail when it comes to grant applications.

What to do with this gift of time

The question is, though, what should you be doing with this gift of time?

You should be making use of this time to plan out your upcoming projects for 2019 and 2020. Here are a few ideas:

  • Do some better research on your critical infrastructure
  • Dig into your data deeper
  • Update your department and community description
  • Develop and send out those surveys you need to win a Fire Prevention and Safety grant
  • Find out exactly how much putting a new fireman on the payroll is going to cost
  • Try to figure out where additional money can be identified that could be used to offset SAFER money and give you a stronger sustainability plan
  • Dig in and figure out how many times you are or are not complying with NFPA1710-1720

You should also be thinking about getting yourself and your department properly trained to incorporate proper grant strategy into your overall financial planning. Pick a school and go find out what the other folks are learning so your applications win more often. Explore the possibilities available to you by consulting with a true public safety grant consulting firm. Doing so can truly make a difference in your overall outcomes.

This too shall pass

This government shutdown will be over before you know it. In the meantime, take advantage of the extra time that it is affording you: Use this gift of time to get ready for upcoming grants in 2019 and 2020.

FY 2017 Mitigation Grant Application Cycle: Lessons Learned and Best Practices for Application Development


FEMA HMA

FEMA’s 90-minute webinar was held on August 2 and 3, 2017. It reviewed lessons learned and best practices identified during the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 mitigation grant cycle to assist in the development of applications for the FY 2017 Grant Cycle. It presented an overview of the results of the FY 2016 mitigation grant cycle, with a focus on common issues and best practices identified across all project types with an in-depth walk through of the innovative Drought and Flood Mitigation Projects (Green Infrastructure, Aquifer Storage and Recovery, Flood Diversion and Storage, and Floodplain and Stream Restoration).

Download presentation

White House Releases Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Proposal


Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI)On Tuesday, the White House released President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal. The $4.1 trillion spending plan includes $44.1 billion in funding for the Department of Homeland Security.

The spending plan requests $688,688,000 for the Assistance to Firefighters and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant programs, split evenly between the two programs. This is a slight reduction from the $690 million Congress appropriated for the programs in the current fiscal year. The budget proposal also requests $43,410,000 for the United States Fire Administration (USFA), with $1,497,000 of that request targeted for infrastructure improvements at USFA’s Emmitsburg, MD campus. Congress appropriated $44 million for USFA in Fiscal Year 2017.

Full story

Impacts That AFG Grantees Can Expect in the Event of a Lapse in FY2014 Appropriations


Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG)The following is an important special message sent on behalf of Brian Kamoie, Assistant Administrator for Grant Programs, DHS/FEMA.

As many of you are aware, Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 funding for the Federal Government expires on September 30, 2013. However, there is enough time for Congress to pass a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to maintain our current operations and prevent a lapse in funding on October 1.

Prudent management requires that we be prepared for all contingencies, including the possibility of a government hiatus. If funding lapses on October 1, many government activities will cease because they no longer have the authority to incur further financial obligations, except those necessary to suspend operations. Employees who are associated with those activities would be temporarily furloughed.

To prepare for this possibility, we are working to update our contingency plans for executing an orderly shutdown of activities that would be affected by a lapse in appropriations.

Impacts that FEMA Grantees Can Expect in the Event of a Lapse in FY2014 Appropriations

In the event of a lapse of FY14 appropriations, we have prepared the following information to address the questions of many of our grant recipients:

Will the lapse affect my grant?

  • Grant-funded projects for which funding has been awarded, obligated, and released by FEMA will not be affected by the lapse of FY14 appropriations and work can continue unimpeded.
  • Grantees will not be able to draw down funds for Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER), Assistance to Firefighter Grants (AFG), or Fire Prevention and Safety grants because these rely on manual processes that will not be staffed during a lapse in appropriations.
  • FEMA will not announce FY13 AFG or SAFER awards during the lapse in appropriations and reimbursement for SAFER invitational travelers will be delayed.
  • FEMA staff is working to release as many fund holds as possible prior to close of business on Monday, September 30, 2013.

What if I have questions or need help with my grant?

  • Unfortunately, no FEMA grant staff will be available to answer grantee questions during a lapse in FY14 appropriations; however, we will work closely with grantees who have questions once the lapse has ended.
  • FEMA’s grant help desks will not be staffed, including the Centralized Information and Scheduling Desk (ASKCSID), Grant Award and Administration Control Desk, and Assistance to Firefighters Grants Help Desk.
  • During the lapse, FEMA grant staff will not be able to address rejected payment requests or problems related to holds, missing reports, or to reset passwords for grants processed through the PARS and Smart-link systems.

I know that the budget uncertainties put our workforce in a difficult situation and that many employees, as well as those we serve every day, would face hardships should a funding lapse occur. As we approach the end of the month, I am committed to providing you with updated and timely information on any further developments.

Situations like this are always difficult and your hard work, dedication, and patience through this process are appreciated. Thank you for your continued service to our mission and to the Nation.

National Defense Authorization Act – Contact Your Senators


Fire Grant News from the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI)

The U.S. Senate is currently considering S.3254, the National Defense Authorization Act. Senator Joseph Lieberman (CT), co-Chairman of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, is attempting to include an amendment to the legislation that would reauthorize the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant Program and the United States Fire Administration.

All members of the fire and emergency services are asked to contact their U.S. Senators. Encourage them to contact Senator Carl Levin (MI), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee to express their support for the Lieberman Amendment. Make the calls today!

Talking Points For Your Phone Calls

  • I understand that Senator Joseph Lieberman has filed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.
  • Amendment #3090 would reauthorize the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant Program and the United States Fire Administration.
  • I strongly urge you to contact Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and ask for his support of Amendment #3090.
  • AFG, SAFER and the United States Fire Administration are essential to enhancing the readiness and response capabilities of fire departments in (your state) and all other states. We need these programs reauthorized.

Contact Information

  • The phone number for the Capitol Switchboard is 202-224-3121.
  • Ask that your call be transferred to your Senator’s office.
  • Please make two calls – one to each of your Senators.
  • The calls need to be made today!