FEMA has made significant updates to criteria and priorities for PPE and other key categories
It’s that time of year: The Assistance to Firefighters Grant program application opens on Monday, Nov. 8, and closes on Dec. 17 at 5 p.m. ET.
There are some major changes to this year’s program. The most notable is the fact that the grant program has $414 million to distribute among successful applicants. That is the highest amount available through AFG in the past decade. The increase is the result of additional funding from the American Rescue Plan. Next year, the amount will revert to approximately $345 million.
So, if you have been procrastinating on applying for AFG funding over the past few years, now is the time for you to submit your application.
After the close of the 2020 AFG grant, I penned the article “AFG priority list: It’s time to address its shortcomings,” a critical look at the criteria FEMA was using to categorize applications for both turnout gear and SCBA. Specifically, for the previous two applications, AFG was only giving a high priority to applicants whose firefighters had no PPE. If you had a set of gear, even if it was 18 years old and falling apart, you were only a medium priority in FEMA’s eyes.
It seems FEMA heard the voice of the fire service, and for 2021 has issued new PPE replacement criteria. Here is the new version:
Inclusion of pre-scoring emphasis for this Activity to ensure replacing out of service and non-compliant PPE is of high priority.
The following PPE priorities and definitions have been updated:
In addition, the applicant’s call volume will have a lesser impact on scoring and, therefore, the final funding decision – a win for the smaller, rural departments that have had an uphill battle getting their PPE applications approved because their call volume didn’t stack up to some of the larger departments.
There are several other changes of note in this year’s AFG application.
Period of Performance: For departments that receive grant funding, the period of performance has been extended to two years. The period was previously one year, but supply chain issues have made it difficult for grantees to meet this benchmark, and FEMA was deluged with requests for grant extensions.
Micro Grants: FEMA is prioritizing Micro Grants – the option to apply for a project with a cumulative federal funding of $50,000 or less for eligible Operations and Safety activities. For each of the career, combination and volunteer departments categories, FEMA will work to fund no less than 25% of the allocation for Micro Grants. Note: Applicants that select Micro Grants under Operations and Safety as a funding opportunity choice may still apply for a Vehicle Acquisition or a Regional project.
Equipment Activity: Within the Equipment Activity of AFG, the following equipment priorities and definitions have been updated:
Facility Installations: Under Modifications to Facility Activity, new first-time installation of exhaust, sprinkler, carbon monoxide and/or smoke/fire detection systems are now listed as High Priority, while replacement or update/upgrade to existing systems is considered a low priority.
Start your application today. There are no priorities given to the last application submitted on the last day. Please remember to have a current SAM registration and DUNS number. Solicit realistic cost estimates for your project, and don’t forget to allow enough time for someone else to review your project before your hit the submit button.
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