If you’re a fire department in search of grant funding, the first place you likely turn toward is FEMA grant opportunities—namely the Assistance to Firefighter Grant (AFG) general program and Fire Prevention and Safety (FP&S) program, and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) opportunity. These are proper choices, of course, as these are multimillion-dollar programs whose awards provide a major boon to the grant winners. But there are several other grant opportunities your department might want to look into, including other public and even foundation sources, especially if you have small volunteer fire departments under your wing. Here are some funding opportunities to get the ideas rolling:
- Community Development Block Grant (CDBG): The CDBGs deserve to be mentioned first, as they are a great way to fund and build fire fleets. As detailed in this article about fire fleets in San Diego, the San Diego County Fire Authority was able to fund 40 percent of new equipment using CDBG funds.
- Firehouse Subs Foundation Grant (private): This grant supports the enhancement of life-saving capabilities of public safety entities. Eligible costs include life-saving equipment, prevention and education materials, and scholarships and continued education funding. Awards typically range $10,000-$20,000. App due date: 12/15/12. In Grants Network as FD2541.
- Fireman's Fund Heritage Program (private): This grant supports community fire departments through the purchase of emergency response equipment, firefighter training, and community education programs. In recent years, grants have averaged $5,000-$10,000, but can be significantly higher ($25,000). This rolling grant is in Grants Network as FD0661.
- Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) Program (public): This grant supports fire suppression activities in rural communities with populations of 10,000 or less. Funding is available to purchase fire equipment, pay for training or training materials, or cover the cost of department incorporation. Most awards are capped at $5,000. This rolling grant is in Grants Network as US1834.
- USDA Rural Development (public): Consider how the town of Herculaneum, Missouri, was able to purchase a new pumper truck after the Johnson Board of Services received grant funds in the amount of $19,410 from USDA Rural Development’s Rural Business Enterprise Grant. Read the full story here. This rolling grant can be found in Grants Network as US11122.
The best case scenario is to win both federal and foundation grants. For those that will be applying for the 2017 Assistance to Firefighters Grant, here are some specific tips from Washington's The Ferguson Group to put your best application forward: https://blog.ecivis.com/afg-2017-tips-for-success
We’d love to hear from small fire departments: What sources do you turn toward for funding? What are your methods for finding the funding you need? What are your needs? Comment, write us, and subscribe! We want your views.