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Assistance to Firefighters Grants - Application Tutorial - Section 1

This section covers Section 1 of the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) application tutorial. The tutorial is intended for fire departments and eligible organizations who are interested in AFG application assistance tools.

*Please note that this tutorial was produced for the FY 2011 AFG open application period.  Applicants should always refer to the latest Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) when applying.*




Welcome to the Applicant Tutorial for the 2011 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.

Before proceeding with this tutorial, please obtain a copy of and begin reading the FY 2011 Assistance to Firefighters Grants Guidance and Application Kit - Section I (PDF 3MB, TXT 106KB) and Section II (PDF 2.35MB, TXT 46KB) . Throughout the tutorial, we will refer to this PDF document as the FY11 AFG Program Guidance.

Tutorial Goals

The goals of this tutorial are to:

  • Inform you about the purpose and goals of the AFG Program
  • Identify eligible organizations
  • Identify activities for which you can request grant funds
  • Explain the AFG Program funding priorities
  • Explain the application evaluation criteria
  • Identify national standards and their applications
  • Walk you through the application process

If you have questions about the content of this tutorial or other aspects of the AFG Program, call the AFG Help Desk at the toll-free number shown below.

AFG Help Desk: 1-866-274-0960

Application Resources

At the bottom of this screen, you will find links to important resources for developing your application. You can click these links at any time during the tutorial to find more information. All of the resources listed below can be accessed directly at the AFG Program Website.

  • AFG Website. This Website contains all the information needed to apply for AFG funding, including announcements of the application deadlines, links to resources, information about previous grantees, and more. Here you can sign up to receive AFG Program announcements by e-mail.
  • FY 2011 Assistance to Firefighters Grants Guidance and Application Kit. This is the funding solicitation, which is the key document that you need to read to learn about the AFG Program, funding priorities, and the application evaluation criteria. Throughout this tutorial you will see references to specific sections of the FY11 AFG Program Guidance.
  • Web-based AFG Application. You will create and submit your application using a web-based application that can be accessed from this tutorial or from the AFG Website home page. The application can be accessed at
  • AFG Help Desk and Regional Representatives. These are people you can contact when you have questions about the FY11 AFG Program Guidance and the web-based application.
  • Data on Previous Grants. Information and statistics on grants awarded in previous years.

The Application Process

The next few screens provide a brief description of the application submission, review, and award process.

  1. Interested applicants review the latest AFG Program Guidance and Get Ready Guides. Prospective applicants read the FY11 AFG Program Guidance and review eligibility criteria, funding priorities, and evaluation criteria.
  2. Applicants complete the Web-based AFG application. Applicants complete the online application and call the AFG Help Desk with any questions or technical problems. The application must be submitted before the grant application deadline. The number of applications received per year ranges from a low of 16,000 to 20,000.
  3. Applications are reviewed and scored. All submitted applications undergo a two-phase review process.
    • Phase 1: Automated Evaluation. All applications undergo an automated evaluation that assigns a preliminary score (or prescore) to all applications based on how well they match the eligibility criteria and funding priorities. The highest-scoring applications are forwarded to the second phase of review.
    • Phase 2: Peer Review Evaluation. Peer reviewers read and score applications and make funding recommendations.
  4. Technical Review. FEMA conducts technical reviews of the highest-scoring applications, including the evaluation of project budgets to determine if costs are reasonable.
  5. Grant Awards. Applications are rank-ordered starting with the highest-scoring application, and FEMA notifies awardees by e-mail. All awards are announced on the AFG Website. Click here to view the awards page.



The primary goal of the AFG Program is to provide financial assistance directly to fire departments and nonaffiliated EMS organizations to help them meet their firefighting and emergency response needs and improve their capabilities with respect to protecting communities from fire and related hazards. Since 2001, the AFG Program has helped firefighters and other first responders to obtain critically needed training, equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, and other resources.

The AFG Program is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Application Period: August 15, 2011 to September 9, 2011

Eligible Organizations

Two types of organizations are eligible to apply for the 2011 AFG funding:

  1. Fire departments
  2. Nonaffiliated EMS organizations

Eligible fire departments and nonaffiliated EMS organizations include those operating in any of the 50 States plus the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico.

Note: Two or more separate fire departments or nonaffiliated EMS organizations that share the same facility will be viewed as one organization to avoid duplication of benefits.

Fire Departments

A “fire department” is defined as an agency or organization that has a formally recognized arrangement with a State, territory, local, or tribal authority (city, county, parish, fire district, township, town, or other governing body) to provide fire suppression to a population within a fixed geographical area on a first-due basis.

Nonaffiliated EMS Organizations

A “nonaffiliated EMS organization” is defined as a public or private nonprofit emergency medical services organization that provides direct emergency medical services, including medical transport, to a specific geographic area on a first-due basis but is not affiliated with a hospital and does not serve a geographic area where emergency medical services are adequately provided by a fire department.

For more information, see the “Eligible Applicants” section in theFY11 AFG Program Guidance, Section I.

Fire Department-Based EMS Units

  • Fire departments may submit a grant application and request funds to support the EMS unit affiliated with their agency, i.e., a fire department-based EMS unit.
  • However, fire-based EMS units are NOT eligible to submit funding applications independent of the fire department with which they are affiliated.

Other Eligible Organizations

Nonfederal airport and port authority fire or EMS organizations are eligible for funding ONLY if they have a formally recognized arrangement with the local jurisdiction to provide fire suppression or EMS on a first-due basis outside the confines of the airport or port facilities.

Ineligible Organizations

The following organizations are NOT eligible for AFG awards:

  • Federal fire departments, or departments contracted by the Federal Government, that are solely responsible for fire suppression on Federal installations or land under a formally recognized agreement.
  • Fire stations that are not independent entities but are part of, controlled by, or under the day-to-day operational direction of a larger fire department or agency.
  • Fire departments that are for-profit departments (i.e., they do not have specific nonprofit status or are not municipally based).
  • Auxiliaries, fire service organizations or associations, hospitals, and state or local agencies, such as a state forest service, fire marshal, and training offices.
  • Dive teams, search and rescue teams, and similar organizations that do not provide medical transport.

For more on Eligibility, see Part III of the FY11 AFG Program Guidance.

Grant Program Areas

Applicants may request grants to support both Fire and EMS projects in three main grant program areas:

  • Operations and Safety
  • Vehicle Acquisition
  • Regional Projects


You may apply for funding in one, two, or all three grant programs, but you will have to complete and submit a separate application for each grant requested by the same deadline. Each application must fully answer all questions and justify the request, without exceeding the financial cap.

One Application per Grant Program


  • You may submit only one application per grant program. For example, to apply for grants in all three programs, you would have to submit one application for the Operations and Safety grant, one application for a Vehicle grant, and one application for a Regional Project grant (for which you are the host applicant).
  • If you submit multiple applications in a single grant program area, e.g., two applications in Operations and Safety, or two applications for Vehicle grants, both applications submitted will be disqualified from consideration.

Operations and Safety

In the Operations and Safety Grants Program area, you may request funding for any or all of the following:

  • Training
  • Equipment
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Wellness and Fitness programs
  • Modifications to Facilities

NOTE: You may apply for as many activities as needed in your one application for Operations and Safety. However, you will need to provide sufficient justification in your narratives to cover all of the requested activities or project.

Vehicle Acquisition

In the Vehicle Acquisition program area, you may submit one application to request funding to buy:

  • New firefighting vehicles or ambulances
  • Used firefighting vehicles or ambulances
  • Refurbished vehicles
  • Support to refurbish a currently owned vehicle


The requested vehicles must meet all applicable standards to be eligible for funding.

For more on eligible vehicle projects, see FY11 AFG Program Guidance, Part I. B. Funding Priorities.

Regional Project Grants

To qualify as a Regional Project, multiple organizations serving more than one local jurisdiction must benefit directly from the project activities implemented with the grant funds. Projects should seek to facilitate interoperability and efficiency among the participating jurisdictions.

In the Regional Project program area, each applicant may request funding for:

  • Communication Equipment
  • Training
  • Personal Protective Equipment

Regional Project Grant Hosts

Regional Project Host Applicants. Any eligible applicant, whether a fire department or a nonaffiliated EMS organization, may submit an application to serve as the host applicant of a regional project. As the host applicant, you will be responsible for applying for a large-scale or regional project on behalf of your organization and any number of organizations in neighboring jurisdictions.

  • The host organization must agree, if awarded, to be responsible for all aspects of the grant. This includes, but is not limited to payment of the required cost share, accountability for procured assets, and all reporting requirements.
  • The AFG Office strongly recommends that all organizations involved in a regional project have in place prior to award documentation of the agreements made concerning the financial responsibilities of each party and the process for distributing grant-funded assets.
  • When submitting a Regional request use demographics, such as square mileage, number of firefighters, number of vehicles, call volume and budgets of all departments listed.

Grantee Responsibilities

If your department or organization receives an AFG Program award, you will be responsible for submitting regular program and financial reports and complying with all applicable Federal rules and regulations. Some of the most important grantee responsibilities are described below and in the next series of screens. (Also see Sections I and II of the FY11 AFG Program Guidance.)

  • You must perform the tasks as outlined in the grant application that is approved by FEMA, and grant activities must be completed within the one-year period of performance.
  • You must retain grant files and supporting documentation, e.g., copies of your grant agreement, paid invoices, canceled checks, etc., for three years after grant closeout notification. The AFG Program may require access to any pertinent books, documents, papers, or records belonging to a grant recipient. These records must document actual payment activity, such as receipts and copies of cancelled checks.
  • You must comply with all of the special conditions in your award’s Articles of Agreement, e.g., restrictions on maximum costs allowed.
  • You must comply with all Federal procurement policies.

Required Reports

  • 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.
  • A Semiannual Programmatic Progress Report is due six months after the grant award date.
  • 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 programmatic performance report are due within 90 days after the end of the grant’s period of performance.

Maximum Federal Share

The maximum Federal grant share for any organization receiving grant funding may not exceed the limits given below.

Population Size greater than 50,000 = Maximum Federal Share of $2.75 million

Population Size of Between 20,000 and 50,000 = Maximum Federal Share of $1.75 million

Population Size of Less than 20,000 = Maximum Federal Share of $1 million

Cost Share Requirement

A grantee is required to provide a share of the cost of the project for which funding is requested. The cost share requirement is based on the population of the community the applicant serves.

The cost share must be paid in cash. In-kind contributions or volunteer services are not eligible to serve as the cost share.

For a Population Size of Greater than 50,000 = 20 Percent Applicant Match.

For a Population Size Between 20,000 and 50,000 = 10 Percent Applicant Match.

For a Population Size of Less than 20,000 = 5 Percent Applicant Match.

Cost Share Example 1

Population Size Greater than 50,000

  • Applicant Service Population: 266,000
  • Total Project Cost: $100,000
  • Cost Share Required: This department is required to provide a cost share of 20 percent of the total project cost, or $20,000.
  • Federal Share: The Federal grant provides 80 percent of the total project cost, or $80,000

Cost Share Example 2

Population Size Less than 50,000 but more than 20,000

  • Applicant Service Population: 40,000
  • Total Project Cost: $100,000
  • Local Match Required: This department is required to provide a cost share of 10 percent of the total project cost, or $10,000.
  • Federal Share: The Federal grant will provide 90 percent of the project cost, or $90,000, as the Federal share.

For more on cost share, see theFY11 AFG Program Guidance, Section II, Part I, E. FY 2011 Match Guidance.

Maintenance of Operating Expenses

Because a grant award is intended to supplement your department’s operating budget, not replace a portion of it, you must maintain operating expenses at an appropriate level for the one-year grant period of performance.

Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) Number

  • DUNS numbers are required by all applicants and are available free of charge.
  • Call 1-866-705-5711 toll free to request a DUNS number.
  • You also can request a DUNS number via the Dun and Bradstreet Website. However, registration via the website may take up to 30 business days to complete.
  • Application extensions will not be granted because a DUNS number has not been received.

Central Contractor Registration (CCR)

  • All Federal grantees must register in the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) database, a FREE online database that collects, validates, stores, and disseminates data about all U.S. organizations that do business with the Federal government and must comply with Federal Acquisition Regulations (FARs). See “Create New Registration” at
  • If your city already has a DUNS number, check first to see if it has already registered in the CCR and if its CCR is current.
  • It is recommended but not required that you complete the CCR registration during the grant application period. But you will not be awarded a grant until you have completed CCR registration.
  • You must renew and revalidate your registration at least every 12 months. If the registration expires, it will affect your organization’s ability to receive Federal awards or payments.

National Incident Management System

All grantees must comply with FY 2011 requirements of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) as a condition of receiving an award.

For more information, visit the NIMS Website:

National Fire Incident Reporting System

* For Fire De/partments Only *

In addition to other grantee responsibilities, fire departments are required to report to the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS).

For more information about NFIRS:

For more on Grantee Requirements, see FY11 AFG Program Guidance , Section II, Part I., B and D.

Audit Requirements

Grantees must comply with the requirements of OMB Circular A-133, regarding the audits of states, local governments, and nonprofit organizations. This rule calls for grantees that expend $500,000 or more in Federal funds in a year (from all Federal sources) to have a single audit performed. To get more information about the Circulars, go to

The next section will cover in detail descriptions of the AFG Program funding priorities.

Continue to Section 2.

Last Updated: 
08/13/2015 - 15:23