The 2017 Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) application period is expected to open in the coming weeks. Some of the first workshops have already occurred. AFG is the major federal award that helps fire and EMS departments meet their basic needs by funding protective gear, equipment, vehicles, training and other necessary resources. To help you prepare, we have summarized the AFG section of a recent webinar we co-sponsored with Washington's The Ferguson Group (TFG) on how to win federal grants.
Tips for Success
In Your Annual Grants Calendar: Upcoming Federal Grants, Heidi Schott (TFG) gave some important tips on each section of the AFG for a successful application:
The Data Section - In order for your application to move on to a panel for review, the data section of your entry must receive a passing computer-generated score. An inadequate data section derails an application. Heidi suggests the following:
- Gather your data well in advance. Include the number of calls your department receive over a 3 year period, the types of calls your received, and a detailed equipment inventory.
- Regional applicants must have data from all participating agencies.
- When requesting equipment to apply for, request what is prioritized as high to the AFG in the NOFA . The type of equipment requested may affect your score.
The Narrative - This has several sections and is reviewed by a live panel. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Community and Agency Description - Include what makes your department unique, including your mission statement and an overview of staffing levels and the services your provide.
- Project Description and Budget - It is here that you request what you need and why. Be sure and include the per unit cost of each item requested and a description of any of those items' special features.
- Financial Need - In this section, provide a detailed line item budget that breaks down where you are spending money. Also, explain why you can't finance your request yourself, and include attempts that you have made to secure funding elsewhere.
- Cost Benefit Analysis - Quantify how this award will improve safety and impact operating costs. Use numbers as much as possible to back up your statements.
- Statement of Effect/Impact on Daily Operations - Include when and how often what you are requesting will be used, and how it will benefit not only your organization but the greater community.
General Tips - Finally, TFG gives the following miscellaneous tips to increase your chances of winning the award:
- To prepare your data in advance, go to the FEMA website and download the PDFs in the document section with previous years' application guidance so you will know what you need.
- Avoid using brand names in your narrative. Include the features of the items you request instead.
- Use the self-evaluation sheets found on the FEMA website.
- The FEMA Regional Fire Program Specialist is there to help you. Contact them whenever you have questions.
There are additional tips and insights in the webinar itself. The AFG portion starts at 27:40. It is well worth the 10 minutes it takes to watch or review it.
Browse the fire grant section of our blog for past posts on AFG, other FEMA offerings, and foundation programs to supplement federal funding: