How to start your FP&S application
From new changes to key topics, here's what you need to know as you start your application
Editor's note: Bryan Jack is available to answer your grant-related questions as part of his regular column section, Grants Q&A. If you have a query regarding grants and funding, e-mail Bryan at Bryan.firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Bryan Jack
The Fire Prevention and Safety grant program (part of AFG) is officially in full swing. Guidance was released a week ago and the application process opened on January 3 and will close on February 4.
If you haven't done your homework, completed your pre-planning and reviewed this year's guidance, then you are already behind the eight ball.
To help prompt you into action I'll highlight some of the aspects of this year's program that you will need to focus on when preparing your grant application and narrative.
There have only been a few small changes to this year's grant guidance and priorities, so those of you that applied last year or read last year's guidance are one step ahead.
The most noticeable change is that last year DHS was required to appropriate $28 million to prevention and safety and this year they were only required to dedicate $19.5 million.
The good news for all is that this year's program is funded at $35 million ($15.5 million more than the $19.5 million it is required to be funded at).
This increase in funding reinforces the critical importance of designing, implementing and improving fire prevention and safety programs throughout the county.
Your agency should make fire prevention education and public safety outreach a priority. AFG is providing a means to assist you with your fire prevention goals, all you have to do is apply!
If you haven't read and reviewed this year's FP&S Guidance and Application Kit you should.
This document explains all of the requirements and details about applying for the grant.
It covers topics such as: funding priorities, eligibility, allowable projects, cost share, application review and selection, and administrative procedures.
Essentially, your first step after reviewing the guidance document should be to identify which portion of the program your agency will apply for — "Fire Prevention and Safety" or "Firefighter Safety, Research and Development." (Eligible applicants for the latter are restricted to public health, occupational health and injury prevention institutions.)
I will assume that the majority of you will be applying under "Fire Prevention and Safety."
Next, you need to identify the type of project that you want to fund.
Your identified project should be based on an identified issue and needs to have an achievable and measurable goal/outcome. Some eligible projects include:
- Smoke alarm programs
- Residential sprinkler awareness programs
- Public safety education programs
- Wildfire prevention programs
- Juvenile fire setter projects
- Code enforcement
- Fire and arson investigation
- Many, many more
After you have identified your project you should start the application process. This process is conducted through the federal firegrantsupport.com website.
The application includes standard fill-in-the-blank and check-box data and also requires a narrative statement.
Some of the data that you need to have compiled for the application includes: general department information (career or volunteer, how you are funded, number of personnel, apparatus), call volumes by type for the past several years, types of calls you respond to, etc.
The application will take several hours to complete and the narrative should be drafted and refined over several weeks.
From the narrative viewpoint here are some things to remember to include:
Trends and needs
The first steps in designing a successful program are to identify the trends and needs of the area that you serve.
The only way to determine what your needs are, is to identify and review local and internal data. Start by reviewing your internal call data.
What types of incidents do you respond to and which incidents do you respond to most frequently? Is there a reason these incidents are occurring, and is there a way to prevent them from happening?
You need to identify what the local issues are and then devise a plan to correct those issues.
Population and demographics
After you have identified the local issues, you need to identify the population group that these issues are impacting.
For example, do you serve a community filled with school aged children, young professionals, or a retirement community?
Chances are that you have some of all the categories, but if you look at the available data you may find one group that stands out.
You have identified the issues and analyzed the call trends, population and demographics of your service area. Now it is time to brainstorm some solutions.
Remember, there are always multiple ways to achieve your goals, so don't get tunnel vision on just one solution.
Just pick a fire prevention or safety project that addresses your identified problem/need (based on local data) and can meet an identified goal or outcome and then apply for funding.