The grant programs administered by FEMA – specifically, the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant (SAFER) – only accept applications during a brief period each year (typically 4-5 weeks). The actual application period dates have varied significantly in recent years due to disaster-related deployments of FEMA personnel, government shutdowns, and technology upgrades. The bottom line is that we never know exactly when we’ll be able to submit applications for these popular grant programs until the application period is imminent.
The good news is that the basic guidelines and program priorities of these Federal programs don’t vary a whole lot from year to year. If a project was considered high priority last year, it probably will be again this year. Likewise, the overall structure of the application narratives has remained broadly consistent. This means that a department can identify their internal priorities and match them with a high priority grant project to begin preparing their application well ahead of the application period. Of course, it’s important to consult each program’s specific guidance (Notice of Funding Opportunity – NOFO) once it’s released and make necessary adjustments, but much of the work can be completed ahead of time.
Though it feels like the most recent AFG and SAFER application periods just closed, the next rounds are really not that far away. The AFG application period has opened as early as September or October on several occasions, and by the time an official announcement is made, it may be too late to get the wheels turning within your department. With that said, it’s very important to get internal buy-in to begin the process, select a project, and get started on your application as soon as possible. The sooner you start, the better!
Many of us who work or volunteer as first responders are also still in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. With call volume busier than ever and additional precautions and procedures in place, most of us have even less time for administrative responsibilities. The virus continues to rage in many communities and the prospect of a second wave this fall/winter looms large. Therefore it’s doubly important to take advantage of any spare time now and get a head start on upcoming grant applications.
Of course, working with a grant writer can take a big weight off your shoulders and substantially increase your chance of success. At Firehouse Grants, we are already working with several departments on AFG and SAFER projects for Fiscal Year 2020. We’ll help you identify a high-priority grant project, prepare the entire application, and ensure it’s ready to submit on time.