While on Capitol Hill this past April, Firefighters and EMS Fund learned about three very important fire department grants for local departments. The Assistance to Firefighters Grant program (AFG), The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants program (SAFER) and the Urban Search and Rescue Response System (USAR).
AFG or the assistance to firefighters grant program or was founded in 2001 by Congress to equip our nation’s first responders where their budgets fall short. This allows the federal government to ensure our local departments can meet the needs of the constituents they serve, and remain prepared to respond at any time in the event of a national emergency.
This program was funded at $405 million in fiscal year 2011 and congress has since funded it at around $340 million despite rising costs:
Since 2011 protective clothing costs have increased by 11.4% the cost of the self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) has increased by 15%, the cost of pumper trucks on average have increased by 15% and the cost of the apparatus due to EPA regulations has increased by 12%. This puts a lot of stress on our local fire departments as they struggled to provide even basic necessary equipment for those looking to get the job done.
- 50% of all fire department slack enough portable radios to equip all responders on the shift
- 50% of all fire departments cannot equip all firefighters on a shift with self-contained breathing apparatus
- 72% of our fire departments have at least one piece of personal protective clothing that is 10 years old
SAFER or Staffing for Adequate Fire in Emergency Response Grants program or allows fire departments to apply for grants that will allow to further training and education. As the world around us evolves firefighters need to be up to speed on these changes so that they can respond safely and effectively in a wide range of situations.
USAR or the Urban Search and Rescue Response System was created to support and maintain our nation’s ability to respond to search for and extricate those in distress in the event of a large emergency.
Each year, awards for these fire department grants programs are announced on a rolling basis starting in July they receive around 12,000 applications however only about 2000 are able to get approved 77% of all the fines go to rural fire departments.
The application process begins in the fall, and the 2020 deadline for applications will be in January. It is crucial to encourage our representatives to fund these programs at a higher level than they have been in recent years, as costs for our fire departments have risen at a steady pace. Maintaining consistent level funding is simply not enough.
Stay tuned in the fall of 2019 to learn how you can help support the funding for AFG and SAFER at an adequate level.
At Firefighters and EMS Fund, we look for opportunities to fulfill our mission. This year, we attended the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) in Indianapolis where we were able to discover great tools and resources that are in the market that benefit firefighters. Read more here.