2012 Frequently Asked Questions

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Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) - 2012 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Attention Grantees Who Are experiencing SCBA Delivery Delays

When should FY 2012 SCBA grantees ask for an extension due to 2013 SCBA Testing Delays?

A potential period of performance (POP) extension request applies to grantees that have:

  • Begun their procurement, to include bid solicitation
  • Placed an SCBA order and are waiting for the final testing to be completed. 
  • Completed all awarded activities by the end of their POP

The Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFGP) recognizes that there are delays that are outside of the control of the grantee. The AFG program office will work with grantees toward a reasonable period of performance (POP) extension when grantees have already placed an order with a company and are only waiting for the final testing to be completed.  When the grantee has a delivery date from their vendor in writing for the SCBAs, they may a submit request for a period of performance (POP) extension. Grantees should obtain an anticipated delivery date from the manufacturer and include this information as part of their request to extend their Period of Performance

If an AFG grantee believes that the testing delays will materially impact the delivery of ordered product, grantees are encouraged to contact their Regional Fire Program Specialist approximately 30-45 days prior to the end of their POP to discuss their progress to date in completing their Statement of Work (SOW). At that time, if it is determined that a POP extension is required, grantees will be given instruction as to how to submit their amendment request.
 
 A listing of AFG Regional Fire Program Specialists may be found at http://www.fema.gov/fire-grant-contact-information.
 


What's New for AFG FY 2012?

  • Program priorities are listed as High, Medium, or Low.
  • Within each identified program priority (H,M,L) all the proposed activities within that priority have an equal value. In Wellness & Fitness, we use Priority 1 & Priority 2 instead of the description above.
  • For the FY 2012 program, the term "other" has been removed from the application drop-down menus in all areas. Select "requested items available" from the lists provided in the drop-down menus only.
  • For FY2012 aerials include quints of any size.
  • When requesting a program(s) under the Request Details for Wellness and Fitness in both Fire and EMS; you MUST have all four Priority 1 activities already in place (or request funding to offer all four Priority 1 activities), or you will be unable to request activities under Priority 2. If you have all four or a combination of requested programs in place, then the application will allow you to request other items such as physical fitness equipment.
  • When requesting more than one vehicle, you will be asked to fill out a separate line item and answer all the questions including a NEW narrative for each vehicle. For example, if you are requesting to replace three ambulances, you must fill out the age and vehicle identification number (VIN) of each vehicle being replaced. You cannot use the same VIN number in each line item.
  • When requesting training for equipment, personal protective equipment, modifications to facilities, vehicles, EMS equipment, EMS personal protective equipment, or regional applications, your training request MUST be listed in the "Other" section under Additional Funding in the same category. For example, your department is requesting extrication equipment and you wish to receive formal training on the use of the new equipment. You would make this request in the line item area "equipment" but under Additional Funding, not under Request Details Training.
  • When requesting funding for Environmental Planning and Historical Preservation (EHP) review, enter the funding request under Additional Funding in Request Details.

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Reminders for 2012

Extended warranties and service agreements are still eligible if acquired at the time of the original purchase.

Where should I send letters of support from the community, political leaders, and others for my department's application?
Letters of support should be sent to:

Office of the Assistant Administrator, Grant Programs Directorate
Federal Emergency Management Agency
800 K. Street NW, 9th Floor North Tower
Washington, DC 20001 Fax 202-786-9938

When is the application period?
Grantees may submit completed applications as early as Monday, June 11, 2012, but no later than 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time on Friday, July 6, 2012.

Here are answers to how SAM transition affects AFG awardees, and applicants questions about the transition based on information taken from the CCR Website.

At the end of July 2012, all data in the Central Contractor Registry (CCR) along with Federal Agency Registration (FedReg) will be moved to the new System for Award Management (SAM) to reduce the number of different systems where grantees and contractors need to interact and to reduce the amount of redundant information.

I have a current CCR registration.

  • What do I do? You do not need to do anything right away. When it is time to renew your current CCR registration, you will do it in SAM.
  • What will happen to my data? Your data will be migrated or moved from CCR into SAM. It will be in SAM when you are ready to access it. When it is time to renew your registration, you will go to SAM.gov, create a simple SAM user account, and follow the online instructions to validate and update your information.
  • When do I need to register for a user account in SAM? You only need to register for a user account in SAM when it is time to begin updating your current registration. You do not need to do anything right away.
  • What is the timeline for the CCR transition to SAM? The transition to SAM will occur at the end of July. We will provide more information as that date approaches.

I still need to register in the CCR.

  • Should I wait and register in SAM instead of the CCR? No. You should register in the CCR as soon as possible. You will continue to manage your data in the CCR until the change to SAM occurs at the end of July. Your data will be migrated from CCR into SAM at that time.

Where can I find more information about CCR and SAM?

  • SAM.gov: Some SAM training material is already posted to SAM.gov and will be updated closer to the implementation date.
  • Federal Service Desk (FSD) (1-866-606-8220): The FSD provides help desk support for users of CCR, SAM, and other acquisition-related systems and websites.

My SAM.gov registration has been delayed, may I still submit our organizations AFG application?
Yes. SAM.gov registration is required in order to receive a grant award from FEMA, but is not required at the time of application.
 

May I change or edit my application after it has been submitted?
Once you have submitted your application, you cannot change it. You will not be allowed to update your application to correct errors discovered after submission or to reflect changes in your organization's circumstances.

Are the fees associated with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) licenses and mandates an allowable expense under AFG?
If a grantee is changing their communications equipment in addition to the FCC mandated licensing modification and those changes result in a different emission designator, then an Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC) coordinator is required by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the APCO/AFC fees are an allowable grant activity, if the equipment change/different emission designator continues to support the grant mission.
To learn about FCC waivers or review the list of fee exempt entities, please visit www.FCC.org

When requesting funding for a FEMA Environmental Planning and Historical Preservation (EHP) review, how does the applicant know how much to budget for an EHP review?
An applicant does not have to budget to have an EHP review if they are requesting a facility modification project. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is required to consider the potential impact to natural and cultural resources of all projects funded by FEMA grant funds, through its EHP Review process, as mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act; National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended; National Flood Insurance Program regulations; and any other applicable laws and Executive Orders.
An applicant  is awarded an AFG Grant  must complete the Environmental and Historic Preservation Screening Form (FEMA Form 024-0-01) (OMB Number 1660-0115) for each project that involves modification to a structure (including but not limited to antennas, sprinklers, alarm systems, generators, vehicle exhaust systems, air improvement systems, or renovations to facilities. Some departments may have to hire an EA specialist to assist their environmental assessment and that may cost the grantee additional funds. In those circumstances, we would allow the grantee the opportunity to submit an amendment for the cost increase if the award has already been made..

If an AFG closeout module is not available, will the grantee be allowed to apply for and receive additional AFG awards?
The closeout modules are not available for, all of 2009-2011. This does not prevent a department from applying for an award. If the closeout module is not available and your grant is in good standing, then you will be able to receive a 2102 AFG Award.

Can a grantee utilize sole-source procurement from a vendor if the vendor's equipment is compatible with the equipment that the grantee already owns?
Sole source procurement may be used in certain circumstances. The grantee must seek review and written approval from an AFG/FEMA program office representative through the online amendment process prior to engaging in any sole-source procurement.

Should a grantee have to have their own bidding process or can they use a neighboring fire department's existing contract?
In most cases, a grantee MUST have a competitive bid process which means there must be multiple bidders, and the bid specification cannot be proprietary.

Can a grantee use the Government Services Administration (GSA) purchasing schedule, or another similar purchasing schedule?
Yes. GSA and similar purchasing schedules are acceptable sources for AFG awards and do not require the awardee to engage in bid RFP/RFP procedure.

When requesting funds to purchase new PPE, what is the difference between "torn & tattered" and "obsolete"?
Torn and tattered is when the PPE is ruined. Usually the ensemble has been ripped apart virtually destroying the equipment.  PPE is considered obsolete if the life span is a minimum of 10 years of age (i.e.2 NFPA cycles).

I am trying to closeout an older AFG grant but have been told that some of the closeout modules are not available. Can you tell me when the closeout modules will be available?
Currently the 2009-2011 AFG and FP&S closeout modules has not been deployed.  Once the modules becomes available, you will be required to complete the closeout report in accordance with your 2009 grant agreement.  You will not be penalized for submitting a late closeout report. You will be notified when the revised AFG closeout module becomes available.

Can a grantee purchase off state purchasing contract instead of their Request for Proposal (RFP)?
Yes. State purchasing contracts are acceptable sources for AFG awards and do not require the awardee to engage in bid RFP/RFP procedure

If the vendor offers to throw in an extra piece of equipment or additional item outside of the grant's original scope of work for the same price (e.g., buy one get one free) is that acceptable?
If the vendor offers to throw in an extra piece of equipment or additional item outside of the grant's original scope of work for the same price, the cost of the additional item is added by the program office to the original scope of work and will be considered and counted towards the use of excess funds.

Example: A grantee received an award for 20 SCBA at $5,000 each (total of $100,000). The grantee negotiated with the vendor to purchase the SCBAs for $100,000 with the condition that he would throw in a thermal imaging camera (TIC) for "free". Normally, the vendor would sell the TIC for $10,000. Since this item is valued at $10,000, it is not free. When this grantee submits his closeout report, the amount the TIC was valued would be subtracted from the amount spent on the SCBAs ($100,000 - $10,000 = $90,000). In reality, the grantee purchased 20 SCBAs for $90,000 with a cost per unit of $4,500. The $10,000 spent on the camera will be considered excess funds. We will allow the $10,000 of excess funds, but only if prior approval had been secured via amendment, since the TIC (Equipment) was not under the original awarded activity (PPE).

Can a grantee take out a loan to secure the remaining funding for a vehicle award? Can a grantee use the awarded vehicle as collateral?
The grantee can take out a loan to secure the funding for a vehicle award but they cannot use the vehicle if purchased with AFG funding as collateral.

Where does an applicant request candidate physical ability evaluation program or fitness equipment?
The candidate physical ability evaluation and fitness equipment can be requested under the formal fitness and injury prevention program. The applicant should to have the four basic wellness fitness programs to request these activities.

What information should be provided in the application when a vehicle is being requested?
If an applicant is entering information for vehicles they are replacing or refurbishing, the information should be the same. The age of the vehicle that is being replaced or refurbished should be provided. Do not select N/A.

Where can the fixed Compressor/Cascade/Fill Station be found in the application?
Compressor/Cascade/Fill Station can be found in the Basic Equipment drop down menu.

Where do I request funding in the Fire Operations application for an EKG monitor and/or a LifePak 12 or LifePak15?
Select Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) on the EMS equipment drop down menu and provide a description of your request.

How can fire departments and non-affiliated EMS organizations get access to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) guidelines?
The AFG Program Office partnered with NFPA to provide free links to the NFPA guidelines throughout the AFG application period. Links to the NFPA guidelines are in the AFG Program Guidance. A dedicated NFPA Web portal has also been established at www.nfpa.org/nfpaafg2012/.

Are AFG applicants required to be in compliance with the National Incident Management System (NIMS) either to apply for AFG funding or to successfully receive an AFG award?
AFG applicants are NOT required to be in compliance with the National Incident Management System (NIMS) either to apply for AFG funding or to successfully receive an AFG award.

If an applicant is not in compliance with NIMS at the time of application, does that mean that the applicant is ineligible, and will it impact the applicant's chances of being awarded?
NIMS compliance is required of all Federal grantees. An applicant may not be in compliance with NIMS at the time of application. This does not mean that the applicant is ineligible, and will not impact the applicant's chances of being awarded.

How long does a grantee have to achieve the necessary NIMS compliance level?
Any department that receives a FY 2012 award will have until the end of that grant's period of performance to achieve the necessary NIMS compliance level.

Can an applicant request funding for NIMS training to obtain NIMS compliance? Applicants that need NIMS training may request funding for training through the Training Activity in the AFG Operations and Safety Grant application. However, many online NIMS training courses are available free of charge through the Emergency Management Institute. Additional detailed information on NIMS can be obtained from the NIMS Resource Center on the FEMA website.

For FY2012, what are considered Excess Funds and what bare the restrictions?
After a grantee has completed their scope of work (SOW) and has funds remaining, the grantee may use their “excess funds” in any of the following ways:

  1. Spend up to $10,000 of cost-share funds on materials from the activities that were awarded without seeking FEMA’s approval.  For example, if a grantee was awarded in the personal protective equipment (PPE) activity and has funds remaining after completing the project,  The grantee may use up to $10,000 to purchase additional turnout gear, SCBA’s, or any other equipment eligible under PPE for that grant year.
  2. Purchase items in another activity that were not awarded but requires prior written authorization through an amendment request.  For instance, if a grantee received an award in PPE but wanted to purchase the thermal imaging camera (TIC), they must submit an amendment and receive approval prior to purchasing the TIC.
  3. If a grantee wants to spend more than $10,000 in any activity, they must receive prior written authorization through an amendment request.
  4. Create or expand a fire or injury prevention project.  Any funds spent in these areas require prior written authorization through an amendment request.  In the request the grantee must answer six questions:
    1. What are the current fire or injury prevention efforts in your organization?
    2. Where will the use of excess funds fit into your existing efforts, if applicable?
    3. What fire or injury problem are you trying to address with these funds?
    4. What is your target audience for this project and how were they identified?
    5. How will you deliver this project?
    6. How will you evaluate the effectiveness of this project?
  5. De-obligate the remaining funds back to FEMA.

What small specialty access vehicles are eligible for funding?
Small specialty access vehicles such as All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), gators, snowmobiles, etc., are not eligible for funding under equipment acquisition for any applicant.

How can fire departments and non-affiliated EMS organizations get access to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) guidelines?
The AFG Program Office partnered with NFPA to provide free links to the NFPA guidelines throughout the AFG application period. Links to the NFPA guidelines are in the AFG Program Guidance. A dedicated NFPA Web portal has also been established at NFPA.org.

When is the Federal Financial Report (FFR) SF-425 required to be submitted?
The SF-425 Financial Report is required semiannually based on the calendar year. Reports must be submitted every June 30 and December 31 during the grant's period of performance.

When is the AFG Semi-annual Programmatic Performance Report required to be submitted?
The AFG Semi-annual Programmatic Performance Report is due six months after the grant award date, and every six months after, until the grant is closed out.

If the Semi-annual Programmatic Performance Report and the Federal Financial Report SF-425 are required to be submitted during the same month, which one should be submitted?
Both the SF-425 and the Programmatic Progress reports should be submitted as scheduled, even if their due dates overlap. A final financial report and final closeout report are due within 90 days of the end of the grant's period of performance.

How many fire department vehicles can an applicant request?
Applicants who serve urban, suburban or rural communities may apply for more than one vehicle. Requests cannot exceed the financial cap based on population listed in the application. If a department submits under Operation/Safety & Vehicle application and more than one of the requests are approved, the department will be held to the same financial cap based on population listed in the application(s).

Our department does not have a driver/operator training program in place. Can we have the training program in place after the grant award?
Applicants requesting vehicles that do not have driver/operators trained to current NFPA 1002 or equivalent and are not planning to have a program in place by the time the vehicle is delivered will not receive a vehicle award. If the program is not in place by the end of the period of performance, the grant may be revoked. The funding to train drivers/operators can be requested under additional funding.

Are extended warranties and service agreements for vehicles eligible for funding?
Reasonable extended warranties and service agreements, when offered, are eligible at the time of purchase subject to program office review.
Are there any changes to the Wellness and Fitness program?

A Behavioral Health Program is now required as one of the four basic programs to receive a Wellness and Fitness grant. If your department does not currently offer a Behavioral Health Program, you must request funding to establish such a program before requesting other wellness and fitness projects, such as fitness equipment. For more information use the help link next to behavioral health programs in the online application.

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Behavioral Health Programs/ Wellness and Fitness

Neither the criteria development committee nor the AFG PO is in a position to define what kind of BHP program a department or agency needs. Links to recommended web sites have been provided in the application and the program guidance to give direction to any applicant wanting direction. The help desk staff has been briefed on how to deal with the questions if needed. A program could be as simple as requesting Critical Incident Stress Debriefing training or as complex as full Employee Assistance Program additional web sites are listed below:

Can an applicant request Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as a Regional Project?
Yes, an applicant can request PPE as a Regional Project in addition to training and equipment.

Are boats eligible for funding under AFG grants?
Boats 20 feet or less in length are now eligible for funding as an equipment project, and boats larger than 20 feet (fire boat) are now eligible as a vehicle project.

Are there new eligibility standards for Personal Protective Equipment?
Replacement of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) not compliant with or manufactured prior to the 2002 Edition of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1981 is a high priority. Personal protective equipment is now eligible for regional project funding, in addition to training and equipment.

Why are training flashover simulators an ineligible expenditure but the manufactured burn trailers are not?
Manufactured burn trailers allow firefighters to train in a controlled and environmentally sound atmosphere. They are gas-fueled and computer-controlled training systems that realistically replicate fire emergencies. Flashovers can be simulated in a manufactured burn trailer. The Guide to building Fire Service Training Centers, NFPA 1402, provide guidelines for fire departments on purchasing and the use of these trailers. There are currently no NFPA standards covering mobile live-fire training simulators.

Why does a grantee who was awarded a modification to facility grant (installation of sprinklers, fire alarm system, repeaters, generators etc;) need to complete an Environmental Historic Preservation (EHP) Screening Form to unlock their grant even though the facilities structure will not be disturbed?
Projects involving the installation of equipment are subject to FEMA's EHP review process and include but are not limited to:

  • Antennas
  • Sprinklers
  • Alarm systems
  • Generators
  • Vehicle exhaust systems
  • Air improvement systems
  • Renovations to facilities

FEMA is required to consider the potential impacts to natural and cultural resources of all projects funded by FEMA grant funds, through its EHP review process, as mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act; National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended; National Flood Insurance Program regulations; and, any other applicable laws and Executive Orders.

A down payment up to 25 percent of the federal share request for payment is allowed for the purchase of a vehicle. Will the 25 percent of the federal share request for payment be allowed for the purchase of a boat if a down payment is required in the purchase contract?
Yes. A down payment of 25 percent is allowed for the purchase of a boat if requested under a vehicle application.

Can a grantee request and use up to 50 percent of excess funds to purchase wellness and fitness equipment if the department does not have a Wellness and Fitness program?
No. The grantee must have a Wellness and Fitness program in place or in the process of creating one (as part of this request) to include immunizations, entry physicals, periodic screenings and a behavior health program to be eligible to request excess funds to purchase wellness and fitness equipment.

What is an allowable purchase when excess funds are used for a wellness/fitness program?
Allowable purchases with excess funds include, but are not limited to:

  • Fitness exercise equipment
  • Procurement of medical services from trained professionals
  • Medical exams and immunizations
  • Fitness trainer programs
  • Costs for personnel, other physical fitness equipment including shipping charges and sales tax, as applicable), and supplies directly related to performance of physicals or physical fitness activities

When excess funds are used for training, what type of training is allowable?
All training, justified by the grantee, including Firefighter I and II certifications, EMS, Driver/Operator, Fire Officer I-IV, Hazmat response, alternative fuel firefighting Incident Command, supervision and safety, CBRNE awareness, performance, planning and management, and train the trainer classes are allowable.

What is the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) and why is it needed?
Per OMB guidance from August 27, 2010, federal agencies must require prime recipients of federal grants to register in the CCR system. The CCR system is the primary registrant database for the U.S. Federal Government. CCR collects, validates, stores, and disseminates data in support of agency acquisition missions. CCR registration must be conducted online at www.CCR.gov.

How often must you register with the CCR?
An organization only needs to register with the CCR once. The organization must revalidate its registration in CCR once a year to maintain an active status.

Is registration with the CCR required to apply for an AFG grant?
CCR registration is NOT required to apply for a grant, but as a potential grantee you should register. Being registered in the CCR is required to receive a grant award.

Is there a fee to register CCR?
There is no cost to register with CCR. You must have a Data Universal Numbering (DUNS) number in order to begin the registration process. Click here to visit the DUNS site DNB.com

 How would a department know if it has a CCR number?
If your city already has a DUNS number, check first to see if it has registered with CCR, and if the CCR registration is current at CCR.gov.

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Application Questions/Programmatic

Advance payment bonds are a requirement for vehicle grants. What are prepayment bonds and where can I get one?
A prepayment bond is like an insurance policy that protects you in the event the manufacturer with whom you contracted to build your vehicle cannot fulfill the contract, i.e., cannot finish building your vehicle for any reason. A prepayment bond is a financial tool used to guarantee, in the event of manufacturer/contractor default, funds will be available to finish the construction of your vehicle and ensure its proper operation. From the vehicle grantee's point of view, the insolvency of a contractor during the construction of a vehicle would most likely result in delayed completion of the vehicle, additional expenses for a different manufacturer/contractor to finish the work or even loss of grant funds. For this reason, we require manufacturers/contractors to provide a bond from an independent bank, insurance company or bonding agency so the vehicle grantees can recover damages they may sustain if the manufacturer/contractors default during the construction of a vehicle. The amount of the bond should be equal to, or greater than, the sum of any payments, compensation and/or consideration provided prior to the delivery of the vehicle.

While the AFG Program Office does not encourage advancing funds for any goods or services not received, if a down payment is required and you intend to request federal funds for a down payment, a prepayment bond is required. A copy of the prepayment bond and a copy of your contract must be submitted to the Program Office prior to your request for federal funds. If you intend to use your own funds for a down payment, the Program Office strongly encourages you to get a prepayment bond to ensure your down payment.

What is the suggested timeline for purchasing a vehicle?
The Program Office recommends the following timeline for vehicle purchases:

0-30-60 days Award is received, and specifications are updated or created. Any cost share funds requiring approval from a municipality, council, board, etc. should be addressed. Bear in mind matching funds are not required by the AFG until the end of your period of performance, so you are encouraged to move forward with your grant activities.

  • 30-60 days Specifications are approved, and the request for bids is published.
  • 75-90 days Bids are reviewed, and the vendor is selected.
  • 90 days The contract has been signed, and the performance bond obtained.
  • 180 days Semi-annual performance report is due.
  • 365 days Vehicle is delivered.
  • 366 days The final performance report is due.

What are the grantee requirements for purchasing a vehicle?
Grantee must have a Prepayment Bond if they are advancing any program funds to the manufacturer. Prior to payment, the Program Office requires faxed or e-mailed copies of: the penalty clause, minimum $100 per day; a copy of the contract with delivery date of vehicle; and a copy of prepayment bond.

What is considered poor performance by a vendor/manufacturer for a vehicle grant, and what are the consequences of poor performance?
Poor performance is defined as an insufficient attempt to complete the statement of work within the period of performance. The recommended penalty is $100 a day off the total award or final cost of the vehicle (whichever is less) every day past the period of performance if the vehicle is not delivered.

What if I have excess funds from my vehicle grant?
There is no $10,000 limit on the amount of excess funds from your vehicle award. Funds may be used for driver training compliant with NFPA 1002 or equivalent. They may also be used to purchase NFPA 1901 or 1906 compliant equipment, specific to the vehicle purchased. Use of excess funds for Fire Prevention and Safety activities, Wellness and Fitness activities, or training (excluding driver/operator training) would require an amendment. If you have additional questions about the use of excess funds, call the AFG Help Desk at 1-866-274-0960.

Can we use fire grant funds to hire personnel?
The Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program will not fund firefighter positions. However, fire departments may use funding to pay personnel expenses necessary to support and complete a program that begins and ends during the grant year.

When can I apply?
The AFG Program application period is generally in the spring of every year. We strongly recommend you subscribe to our Newsletter.

When I go to the Web site for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, how do I reach the application page?
Click E-Grant Application Access and you will be directed to the Login screen for the grant application.

When is the grant application due?
See the Program Guidance for information regarding the submittal dates. Applications received after the close of the application period will not be accepted.

Where can I obtain technical assistance with filling out the application?
There is a Help Desk and toll-free information line available for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. The toll-free number is 1-866-274-0960. Normal business hours for the Help Desk are Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EDT. During the application period, the Help Desk will be staffed:

  • 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT, Monday through Friday This number will also accept voicemail messages after hours or if the line is busy. Questions may also be sent to a toll-free fax line, 1-866-274-0942, or e-mailed using our feedback form. In addition, you may email questions to FireGrants@dhs.gov.

If you are a new applicant, a PowerPoint slide presentation is available for download on the AFG grant program's Web site. The presentation provides information about many aspects of the program and gives detailed guidance on preparing and completing the online application.

Additionally, an online tutorial is available to assist applicants with completing the automated application. This tutorial explains the application screens, provides tips for navigating the application screens, reviews lessons learned from previous program years, and summarizes the changes in the grant program for the current year. Click here to access the tutorial.

May I apply for more than one grant? May I request items from more than one program area?
Yes. In 2012, applicants may submit one application in each grant program area. Applicants may apply for any number of items or activities within the chosen program area. Below are the three grant program areas for 2012:

  1. Operations and Safety program area. Eligible activities are Training, Equipment, Personal Protective Equipment, Wellness and Fitness, and Modifications to Facilities.
  2. Vehicle Acquisition program area. Eligible apparatus for fire departments include but are not limited to pumpers, aerials, quints, rescue vehicles, command vehicles, brush/attack units, tanker/tenders, ambulances, foam trucks, HAZMAT units, and fire boats. Eligible apparatus for nonaffiliated EMS organizations includes ambulances, rescues, and command vehicles
  3. Regional Project program area. Examples of viable regional projects would be a multi-jurisdictional communications system or standardization of training. If your organization is planning on submitting an application for more than one of the three grant opportunities - Operations and Safety Activity, Vehicle Acquisition Activity, Regional application, a separate application must be submitted for each program area. In 2012, you may work on the applications concurrently if you choose.

If a fire department or nonaffiliated EMS organization submits multiple applications, as allowed in the 2012 Program Guidance, will the scores of all the applications be combined or averaged, potentially hurting the department, or does each application stand alone?
Each of their applications will be scored separately in all phases of the evaluation. The score applied to one application will not affect the score(s) of any other application(s).

May I change or edit my application after it has been submitted?
Once you have submitted your application, you cannot change it. You will not be allowed to update your application to correct errors discovered after submission or to reflect changes in your organization's circumstances.

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Application Questions/Technical

When I try to login it tells me the password is expired? I don't remember my password and/or username?

  1. Click on the "forgot password" link in the login page to reset the password.  This will only work if the email address on the application is current.  The user will also need to put the date of birth that is also listed in the profile information.  Once they submit the request the system will then email them between 1-5 minutes the username and a temporary password. If the user gets the email and sees a listing of more than 1 username that means they have multiple user accounts associated with the same email address.
  2. Please make sure that the user is aware that this is just a temporary password that will expire in 48 hours.

I received an email in the mail center, but I don't see it anymore can you resend the message to me? I never received an email that let me know if I was awarded or denied a grant.

  1. You can review the message by clicking on the "mail center" link and then clicking on the "old messages" link from there.
  2. A copy of any "automated" emails sent to an applicant's email will be in the mail center.

Someone else submitted our grant in previous years and I will be taking over that person's job of submitting this application. I don't have the username and password. I am taking over for the fire chief who retired and I don't know the username and password.
Send a letter explaining why you need this information, and if you also need to change the Primary Contact information. Please be aware changing the Primary Contact on one grant will cause the Primary Contact to be changed on all other department grants submitted under the same user ID. Contact changes may take up to two weeks to process. The letter must be on fire department letterhead and signed by the Fire Chief of the department. Fax a copy of the letter to Annette Robinson at 1-866-274-0942.

After faxing the letter to Annette Robinson, please mail the original letter to:
DHS/FEMA/Grant Programs Directorate
Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program
Annette Robinson - Room 5026
Tech World Bldg. - South Tower 5th Floor
500 C Street, SW
Washington, DC 20472

The following information must be included in the letter:

  1. Grant number
  2. Previous primary contact person's name
  3. Explanation of why access to the grant is needed
  4. New contact person's name
  5. New contact person's mother's maiden name
  6. New contact person's date of birth
  7. New contact person's e-mail address
  8. Two phone numbers for the new contact person

A mailed letter may take two weeks to process. However, soon after faxing the letter to Annette Robinson, you will receive an e-mail from Pinky Sheets telling you she has updated the system and placed your name on the grant as the main contact person. You will also receive an automated e-mail from EOPS@dhs.gov with your user ID and temporary password.

If you do not receive this automated e-mail from EOPS@dhs.gov within two days of faxing your request and receiving the e-mail from Ms. Sheets, you should look in your junk mail file. The electronic e-mails are sometimes filtered and sent directly to junk mail.

If you are still unable to get a new user ID and password, go onto the Web site and choose e-grant application. You will get an application sign-in screen. Click on forgot password, answer the two security questions and submit your request.


I need to change my email address.
The process of updating emails is done by the user.  You can do this by logging onto your grant application. Once you are at the status screen click on the edit profile link at the top right of the page.  After you have updated your profile, click the save button and then log back into the application for the change to take effect.


May I change or edit my application after it has been submitted?
Once you have submitted your application, you cannot change it. You will not be allowed to update your application to correct errors discovered after submission or to reflect changes in your organization's circumstances.


I want to give access to my chief for him to submit the application.

  1. The chief will have to have his/her own username/password.  If they don't they can create one (only during application period) Once they have one on the status screen is a link to search for anyone else who may have started an application.  Have the chief search for the department.  Make sure he spells it and enters it in the same case you have entered.
  2. Once the chief pulls you up, there is a link there to request access.  You will then receive an email that reads he/she wants access. You will then logon to the online application w/your username and password and in the action column of the status screen for that particular application is a link Grant/Revoke access.  Click on it and follow instructions on granting him/her the requester access.

Do I have to put down my routing and account number?

  1. In order for the applicant to be able to submit the application the routing number must be a valid one.  Our servers are secured and only the government is able to view this information.  This will help expedite the award process if they do get awarded.
  2. The user can opt to make up the account number, since we don't validate that it, but this is not recommended. 

 How do I know if my application was submitted?

  1. You know if you've submitted it correctly if you see an application number in the status page of that particular application.  If it is blank that means it has not been submitted.
  2. Being 100% complete does not mean you are automatically submitted.  The system will require you to certify by clicking a check box and entering your password. 
  3. Users will also be emailed a confirmation that it was received as well as be able to view (1 time only) the confirmation page with the application number printed on the page.

I keep getting an error message after I try to save and continue.

  1. Users need to make sure when entering any type of dollar figure that they do not put decimals or commas.  Just numbers.  The same goes for number amounts.  No commas or decimals whole numbers only.
  2. Users should also make sure it takes no longer than 20 minutes before they save and continue on a page, because the e-grant system will time out after 20 minutes.
  3. Users must also make sure that all required fields are filled out correctly and are in the correct format.  Most questions have the correct format in blue next to the text field.

How do I change the password?
You can click on the change password link in the status page of the online grant system.


I cannot fill out the budget page.
The budget page is pre-populated based on the information entered in the request details section of the application.  The only thing they might want to do is change where their share is coming from (taxes, fund raising, etc). Most times we tell the applicant just put their share under applicant in one lump instead of breaking it down.


 How do I change my cost share?  I would like to pay more than (i.e.: 10%)
There is no way to change the cost share, since it is automatically calculated by the population.  The user can write it into their narrative that they will be contributing more than their share.  This is the only place that this can be done.


Can I add two email addresses in the profile? Where do the automated emails get sent?

  1. Only one email address is allowed in any of the email address fields.
  2. All automated emails or any type of email notification will be sent to the email address located in the user profile.  We do not send notifications to the alternate contacts.

I submitted a grant online and I need to change it.
Unfortunately, you cannot correct or edit a submitted application.  This rule is written in the Program Guidance.  Your application will have to remain as it is.
I missed the deadline; can I get an extension to submit the application?
Unfortunately no special consideration will be extended to any applicant that did not submit their application on time.  We'd have to offer the same opportunity to other applicants.  We'd never be able to move forward with the review process.

I can't change the dropdown menu to choose the type of department?
If you are using a browser other than Internet Explorer, you will experience this problem.  In order to make the right choice from the dropdown, you will need to use your up and down arrow key on your keyboard instead of your mouse to make the selection.  Once you have chosen using your up and down key, then press enter. Our site works best with Internet Explorer.  If you want to avoid this issue, please use Internet Explorer.


The system won't let me submit the application after the deadline.
Please look at the top right hand corner of the application.  Does it read FY 2012 or FY 2011?  It more than likely is reading FY 2011 which is the wrong application.  You will need to fill out a 2012 application.


I'm getting a Java Error when I click on save and continue in the Overview.
Does the name in the Main Point of contact area have an apostrophe '?  If the answer is yes, enter the name without and then save and continue.  Then click on the Overview link again and place the apostrophe back in.  The java error will be gone.


My items aren't saving?
You MUST make sure your internet settings are up to date and your temporary internet files and cookies are deleted.  To do this, follow instructions below:

Where do I fill out my narrative?
Image of a screenshot of application portal with a red arrow pointing at instructions on how to write a narrative

Image of a screenshot of application portal with a red arrow pointing at Program Name column

You will choose a Program and then within the activity of the program you will enter your narrative. (if you choose multiple activities you will be required to enter a narrative for each)

  1. Click on the tools link at the top of your browser
  2. Choose internet options
  3. Under the General tab click on delete cookies
  4. Click ok
  5. Then click on delete files, put a check in the box and click ok
  6. Then click on settings button next to the delete files button.
  7. Make sure it is set to view store pages "Every Visit to the Page"
  8. Then click ok
  9. Then go to the content tab and click on auto complete
  10. Then click delete forms
  11. Then ok to close out
  12. Restart your computer and you shouldn't get the error anymore.


I want to change username.
Usernames are permanent and cannot be changed.  Only passwords can be changed.  We cannot combine applications from other user id's either.

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Operations and Safety Program

I have noticed several vendors claim their product is "FEMA Fire Act Approved." Do you have a list of products that are "Approved?"
No. The Federal Government (FEMA, ODP, SLGCP, or DHS) does not approve, endorse, promote, sanction or otherwise support any specific products or services. Purchasers should be wary of any vendor making such claims. For the AFG Program, we require any product or service purchased with grant funds comply with applicable national standards.


We would like to remodel the chief's office and the reception area in our fire station. Can we use grant funds for remodeling?
No. Grant funds may be used for remodeling, but only if the remodeling is relative to other grant activities and has a direct impact on the accomplishment of the grant activities. For example, we will allow remodeling of a room in a station to accommodate training if training is also a grant activity.


What are the priorities for awarding applications for thermal imaging cameras now that there are no limitations on the number of units that can be requested?
There are no specific criteria for awarding thermal imaging cameras (TICs). TICs will be evaluated in the same manner as any other piece of equipment in the Equipment Activity. The evaluation criteria priorities used for the Equipment Acquisition Activity are:

  • Effectiveness of the request to address basic firefighting missions.
  • Frequency of use.
  • Effect on firefighters' health and safety.
  • Equipment that promotes interoperability with neighboring jurisdictions.

When requesting breathing apparatus, how many SCBAs should I request for our firefighters?
The number of breathing apparatus needed for entry into environments immediately dangerous to life or health is directly linked to the number of firefighters who are trained and certified to conduct fire suppression or entry operations. Firefighters who are not trained and certified to conduct operations in these environments should not be issued breathing apparatus. For many departments, this equates to the number of firefighters reasonably expected to show up at an event, i.e., the shift on duty or the number of seated positions in your fleet of vehicles.


Is funding available for construction?
Grant funds may NOT be used for construction of any kind. This includes site preparation for the placement of generators or the erection of a radio tower. Funding is ineligible for any activity where the profile or the footprint of a structure will be changed. However, the costs for renovations to an existing facility are allowable if they support a grant activity or program and involve only the minor interior changes necessary to fulfill the scope of work. Renovations are limited to $10,000.


Where can I find out more information regarding CBRNE preparedness training?
DHS provides CBRNE training at the Awareness, Performance, and Planning and Management levels FREE OF CHARGE for eligible applicants. This training is listed in the ODP Course Catalog (www.firstrespondertraining.gov/odp) or may be obtained by calling the Helpline at 1-800-368-6498.


What are the priorities under the Modification to Facilities Activity?
Eligible projects under this activity must have a direct effect on the life and safety of firefighters. Therefore, we will NOT fund any requests for modifications other than those listed below:

  1. Installation of sprinkler systems
  2. Installation of smoke and fire alarm notification systems
  3. Installation of vehicle exhaust evacuation systems
  4. Installation of vehicle mounted exhaust filtration systems
  5. Installation of air improvement systems; and/or 6) Installation of emergency power generators


From the list of eligible activities above, the highest priority has been assigned to sprinkler systems and fire/smoke alarm systems. DHS does not distinguish between the many technologies for vehicle exhaust extraction systems. Source capture exhaust extraction systems (vehicle mounted and hose-connected systems) are afforded the same consideration as air quality improvement systems or any other vehicle exhaust extraction system under the 2011 grant opportunity.

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Vehicle Acquisition Program

In my application, I indicated my existing vehicle was unsafe and I would remove it from service. What do I need to do in order to comply with this requirement?
The unsafe vehicle cannot be used in emergency service. It cannot be sold, donated, and/or given to another department. The unsafe vehicle may be traded in, taken to the junk yard for scrap, donated to a museum, relegated to farm use, or given to a training academy as long as it will not be utilized for driver training (it could be used for training firefighters to operate the pump). In order to assure an unsafe vehicle is removed, we'll require the grantee to transfer title of the vehicle to any individual or organization that is not in the business of providing first-responder services.


Vehicle awards require a formal driver/operator training program. What is included in a formal driver/operator training program?
A comprehensive driver training program includes not only instruction on driving and/or operating a particular vehicle but also instruction on appropriate preventative maintenance. If you request a vehicle, you must certify personnel who will drive and operate the requested vehicle meet or exceed the national standards for drivers/operators (fire vehicles NFPA 1002, EMS DOT or KKK standards). Be advised that NFPA 1002 requires drivers pass physicals meeting NFPA 1582 as well as the training requirements of NFPA 1001. This training can be accomplished through an established in-house training program or with grant funds added to the vehicle request. If you do not have an established driver training program or do not have a plan to obtain the training through this grant program or some other source, your application is not eligible for funding.


Can I buy a tow-vehicle with grant funds?
Any plan to purchase a vehicle with grant funds must be applied for under the Vehicle Acquisition program area. A tow vehicle is a very low priority. Tow-vehicles for a training program, e.g., for a burn-trailer, may be eligible as a transportation expense if adequately justified in the proposal, but these expenses are limited to $6,000 per year.


What types of costs are eligible under the Vehicle Acquisition program area?
There are several related costs that can be charged to a vehicle grant. However, all costs should be explained in the narrative portion of your application. Any requests must be reasonable and all costs requested will be considered when the application is evaluated. These additional costs can be added to your application budget by clicking "Add Additional Funding" on the Request Details screen and entering your costs on the appropriate budget line.
·  Travel costs to visit the vehicle manufacturer to inspect a piece of apparatus may be eligible.
·  Equipment included in NFPA 1901 for fire apparatus is considered an eligible expense.
·  Driver training is also eligible.
·  If an advance payment bond or performance bond is required, costs incurred can be charged to the grant. Unfortunately, due to the limited funding for EMS vehicles, any additional equipment under the EMS vehicle acquisition program is not eligible.


My department has a vehicle on loan from the State Department of Forestry. We don't own it, but we use it. Do I claim this vehicle on my inventory or only vehicles that I own?
If an applicant has unfettered (free) use of a vehicle owned by another department or agency, the applicant must claim that vehicle in their inventory since the vehicle's use has an effect on the applicant's ability to respond to alarms.

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Regional Projects

For regional applications, are all of the benefiting organizations required to be NIMS compliant or just the host applicant?
We expect all departments receiving equipment or services from a regional project grant to be compliant with all local edicts regarding NIMS prior to award.


Are there any special requirements in order to qualify for a regional communications project?
Yes. Regional communication projects must comply or be consistent with the State Communication Interoperability Plan (SCIP). Applicants in states that do not have a SCIP are not eligible for regional communication projects.


Are organizations or agencies normally considered ineligible for an AFG Grant, eligible to be included as a beneficiary of a regional application?
Yes. Law enforcement, public works or the local emergency management offices could be beneficiaries of Assistance to Firefighters Grants. For example, local law enforcement could be users of a new dispatch system funded by the grant program, or the emergency management staff could be issued radios by the grantee in order to foster interoperability.


I am planning to submit an application as a host for a regional project. When I answer the questions in the Department Characteristics section of the online application, do I use the statistics for the entire region that will be affected by the project, or do I use my department's local statistics?
When applying as a host of a regional project, you should provide statistics for the entire region. The statistics provided may affect the level of the cost-share obligation.


I am applying as the host for a regional project, but I also need some equipment for my own department. Can I submit a second application for my own department's needs?
Yes. In 2012, you may submit a separate application for your own department's needs. DO NOT apply for your own internal needs on the regional application.

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National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS)

What is the policy for reporting to NFIRS (National Fire Incident Reporting System) for fire departments or EMS organizations who apply as regional applicants?
As the official grantee, only the regional host is responsible for adhering to any and all grant requirements. However, we strongly encourage any fire department that participants to report incident data to NFIRS during the period of performance.


Do nonaffiliated EMS organizations have to report to NFIRS?
No. Nonaffiliated EMS organizations are not required to report to NFIRS.
 

National Incident Management System (NIMS)
Do fire departments and EMS organizations have to comply with the requirements of the National Incident Management System (NIMS)?
Yes. In accordance with regulations, all 2012 federal grant awardees must agree to adopt the National Incident Management System (NIMS), must have an understanding of its principles and policies, and must comply with their state, local, or county EMA authority. Responders who have already been trained in ICS do not need retraining if their previous training is consistent with DHS standards. In order for us to document compliance, grantees will be required to certify their recognition of NIMS/ICS as part of their grant closeout process.

DHS offers training for those fire departments that have not implemented ICS or are unfamiliar with the principles and policies of the NIMS. For information regarding ICS and NIMS training, visit the NIMS Web site at FEMA.gov. For more information about ICS training, contact the DHS Centralized Scheduling and Information Desk (CSID) at 1-800-368-6498, or visit the Web site of the DHS Emergency Management Institute (EMI) and the National Fire Academy (NFA) at USFA.FEMA.gov. Your state emergency management training office may also be a source of information in this regard. Recipients of AFG funds should also participate in any community-wide NIMS efforts that may be initiated to implement NIMS in accordance with the guidance that was provided to each State Governor on September 8, 2004.

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Emergency Medical Services (EMS)

The 2012 Program Guidance states that in order for an EMS organization to be eligible for AFG funding, that EMS organization cannot be affiliated with a hospital. What does "affiliated" mean?
By "affiliated" we mean receiving any kind of direct support from the hospital in the form of funding, facilities, staff or apparatus. Contracting with a hospital on a fee-for-service basis would not constitute an "affiliation" in the context of this program.

My EMS organization is co-located with the city fire department. Can we apply as a nonaffiliated EMS organization?
If your nonaffiliated EMS organization does not report to the fire chief and your organization has its own discretionary budget, then you are considered a nonaffiliated EMS organization and eligible to apply for an AFG Grant.


Can an independent rescue squad or emergency medical services unit apply?
In order to be eligible for funding under the 2012 AFG Program, the nonaffiliated EMS applicant must have transport capabilities. If the rescue squad or EMS organization transport victims to the hospital, they are eligible.


Can a fire department buy EMS equipment or obtain EMS training?
Fire departments can apply for EMS training and EMS equipment within the training and equipment activities under the Operations and Firefighter Safety program area. Ambulances, however, are not eligible within this program area. All vehicles, regardless of function, must be requested in the Vehicle Acquisition program area.


The grant program prohibits "for-profit" organizations from applying for grant funding. How do I determine if I am not "for-profit"?
If you are a municipally-based organization, i.e., an organization that provides services on behalf of a governmental entity, or if you are registered with the IRS as a 501(c) corporation, you are eligible to receive funding from the grant program. According to the IRS definition, a 501(c)(3) corporation is: "A corporation, or any community chest, fund or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary or educational purposes . . . no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual . . . "

According to the IRS definition, a 501(c)(4) corporation is: "A civic league or organization not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare . . . and the net earnings of which are devoted exclusively to charitable, educational or recreational purposes. " Both of these "501(c)" corporations are nonprofit, which is what the AFG regulations require. The only difference is one is organized for promotion of social welfare and the other for the testing of public safety. It should be noted that it does not matter if an organization charges individuals for services rendered as long as the organization is only covering its expenses and not profiting.


How do you determine whether you are a volunteer, combination or career department?
A volunteer fire department is composed entirely of members who do not receive compensation other than a length of service retirement program (LSOP) and insurance. A career department is a department where all members are compensated for their services. A combination department has at least one volunteer, with the balance being career members, or one career member with the balance being volunteers. If a volunteer fire department provides stipends to their members or provides "pay-on-call" for their members, the department is considered to be combination.
 

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Eligibility

If my department received one or more AFG Grants in a prior year, are we still eligible to apply?
Departments that received grants in previous program years are eligible to apply for funding this year. Departments that have been awarded vehicle grants in previous years are eligible for a vehicle award in 2012. Applicants should indicate if their request builds upon a program awarded in a previous year, if applicable. The adequacy of a grantee's performance on a prior year's grant may be considered during the evaluation phase when determining any award.

Miscellaneous

I want to buy radio equipment all of my neighboring departments use, and there is only one vendor that sells those radios. Do I have to seek other bids or may I use the sole source?
Interoperability is justification for selection of a specific vendor but CANNOT be used as justification to avoid obtaining bids from other sources. You must ensure all procurement actions are conducted in a manner that provides, to the maximum extent possible, open and free competition, and document your choice of vendors in your grant files.


With the changing technology in communications, why are cell phones not allowed in the AFG Program?
There are several issues with allowing cell phones in the grant program. Traditionally, they are not used for emergency communications. They are considered an ancillary device that may assist a fire department member for personal communications but not the primary means for emergency communications, especially at a fire scene. There is also the issue of multiyear user agreements for cell phones; the grant program has a limited performance period of one year.

The AFG Program will accept applications that include the 800 MHz trunked radio systems and wireless technologies in support of interoperability. As with all grant requests, the burden of justification for the cost-benefit of this request is the applicant's responsibility. If awarded, a technical review will be conducted to ensure the system requested meets the state and local interoperability requirements. The grant funds can be used to purchase the equipment but cannot be used to pay for service contracts or annual usage agreements.

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Last Updated: 
05/20/2014 - 13:37
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