NVFC Submits Comments to FEMA Calling for the Simplification of AFG and SAFER Applications

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently issued a Request for Information regarding the simplification of FEMA’s preparedness grants, which include Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants. The NVFC submitted comments prior to the November 7 deadline.

The NVFC’s comments outlined how small, rural communities, particularly those with 2,500 or fewer residents, are almost entirely served by volunteer fire departments. Unlike larger departments, many of these small, rural departments do not have access to dedicated grant-writing staff or funding to hire grant writers to complete AFG and SAFER applications. It is in these small, rural communities where the need for AFG and SAFER funding is often the greatest, but unfortunately it is also where there are the most obstacles to applying for such funding.

The NVFC asked FEMA to:

  • Increase their AFG and SAFER outreach and education efforts to small, rural communities.
  • Either work with the General Services Administration to improve the burdensome and temperamental SAM.gov or create a more user-friendly platform that fulfills the same role.
  • Consider eliminating the cost-benefit and community impact narratives from AFG grant applications or minimizing the impact these narratives have on a grant application’s score, especially for requests for turnout gear and self-contained breathing apparatus.
  • Provide a clearer explanation as to what grant reviewers are looking for in an AFG/SAFER grant application and, when an application is denied, explain to the department the reason it was denied and what may be done to improve it in the future.
  • Provide more assistance to fire departments to help facilitate compliance with the Civil Rights Evaluation Tool, including more accessible and streamlined sample language and templates.

The NVFC appreciates the opportunity to provide comments and information on how FEMA can make the application process for AFG, SAFER, and other preparedness grants simpler and more efficient. The comments the NVFC submitted are consistent with a previously released position statement. View the full comments the NVFC submitted to FEMA here.