9 keys to a competitive SAFER grant

The grant period opens in about two weeks; have these bases covered to giver your application the best chance at success

The Department of Homeland Security through FEMA announced that the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant application period will begin on February 9 and remain open until 5 p.m. March 6.

This application period is actually for the 2014 SAFER grant, which is funded at $340 million.

The SAFER grant program provides funding directly to fire departments and national, state, local or tribal organizations representing the interests of volunteer firefighters to assist them in increasing the number of firefighters that are available to help fire departments meet industry minimum standards.

This funding would allow these departments to attain 24-hour staffing to protect communities from fire and fire related hazards and to fulfill traditional missions of fire departments.

The SAFER program is comprised of two categories: hiring firefighters and recruiting and retaining volunteer firefighters.

Hiring firefighters
Included in this are the subcategories for rehiring, retention, attrition and new hires. Career, combination and volunteer fire departments are eligible to apply under this activity.

The period of performance for this grant will run for 24 months. There is no local match required. The grant will cover the full salary and fringe benefits of the SAFER firefighters.

The priorities under this category are:

  • Rehiring laid-off firefighters.
  • Retaining firefighters who face imminent layoff or filling positions vacated through attrition, but not filled due to economic circumstance.
  • Hiring new firefighters.

Recruiting and retaining volunteers
Combination fire departments, volunteer fire departments and national, state, local, or tribal organizations that represent the interests of volunteer firefighters are eligible to apply.

The period of performance can be between 12 and 48 months and there is no local match involved.

The priority under this category is to assist departments experiencing a high rate of turnover and with staffing levels significantly below the ideal staffing required to comply with National Fire Protection Association Standards 1710 or 1720.

9 areas
Regardless of which category you are applying under there are nine areas to keep in mind as you develop your application.

1. SAFER-funded activities should help your department to meet the appropriate NFPA Standard (either 1710 or 1720) for staffing and assembly if you are funded.

2. SAFER should allow your department to have at least four firefighters on the first arriving apparatus.

3. If you are applying under the hiring category, SAFER-funded firefighters should meet NFPA 1001 Firefighter II certification by the end of the second year.

4. If you are applying under the hiring category, SAFER-funded firefighters should meet at least the minimum EMS certification for your state or locality.

5. Under either category, new firefighters should receive entry-level physicals and immunizations through your SAFER program.

6. New firefighters should receive annual medical exams.

7. Under either category, your department's SAFER program should provide firefighters with accidental death and dismemberment insurance.

8. Recruitment and retention applications should be based on a formal recruitment and retention plan. In addition, recruitment and retention applications should have a periodic evaluation of the program's impact built into the application. Hiring applications should be based on a staffing needs assessment.

9. For a regional request for recruiting and retention, every department involved in the application must sign a memorandum of understanding prior to the close of the application period.

Regardless of which SAFER category your department is considering make sure you have a current DUNS number, an employee identification number and an active registration with System for Award Management.

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