For weeks, departments across the country have been trying to determine the status of their 2018 Assistance to Firefighters Grants applications. They talked to vendors, to neighboring departments and to friends on the internet, and probably even sought the advice of psychics, all to no avail. Some people were giving out dates when they guaranteed that AFG awards would start or when turndown letters would be issued, but those dates all passed, and nothing happened.
Further, we now have exclusive information from FEMA concerning the award and application schedule for 2019.
What we know: 2018 AFG award news
FEMA received 8,406 applications for the 2018 AFG program. This is the smallest number of applications in the history of AFG program.
Of those applications, 2,085 were for new vehicles. The average age of vehicles requested for replacement were 22 years for urban departments, 26 years for suburban departments, and 30 years for rural departments. All these numbers are down slightly from 2017 vehicle applications.
FEMA anticipates that all panel reviews for AFG applications will be completed by the end of April. Post-panel reviews by technical experts will take place during the month of May, and 2018 AFG awards will start in June. Check your application because some applicants have already started to receive 1199A Direct Deposit forms.
Like last year, those applications that did not make it through electronic review will receive turndown letters early in the award process. This is anticipated to occur in June.
Additionally, 2018 SAFER grant applications are currently being reviewed. FEMA anticipates that SAFER grant awards will also begin in June.
FEMA indicated that the 2019 AFG application period will open this fall, with SAFER and Fire Prevention & Safety (FP&S) grant application start dates this coming winter.
What’s new for AFG 2019
For 2019, FEMA will launch a new system. The system, Grant Outcomes (GO), will operate across all three applications. The new system should be more user-friendly, feature plain language, and streamline the application process.
However, with the advent of the GO system, applicants will now be required to register in order to access and complete their FEMA applications. The good news: You can already start that registration process on the GO system site.
The information that you enter into GO registration must match your SAM and DUNS information. This includes your point of contact for your grant. It’s best to complete this registration process as soon as possible.
The new system will not drastically change the 2019 AFG application format. The 2019 AFG application will still feature the same narratives as it has in the past. The sections of the application will remain the same, with some minor changes to make the questions easier to understand.
FEMA has also opened a twitter account, @FEMAGrantsTwitter.
Start early on AFG process
Because there will be no major changes to the 2019 AFG application, I encourage you to start today. Take these steps:
- Register for the new GO system now.
- Make sure your SAM and DUNS registrations are current.
- Meet with your department officers and complete an assessment of your coverage area and your department.
- Determine your needs and read the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to determine if your needs meet AFG priorities.
- Do market research to obtain estimates.
- Write the narrative sections of your application, and get the information ready for the Characteristics sections
- Have someone review your narratives.
Starting today and following this simple plan will allow you to develop and assemble a competitive application following a comfortable timeframe.