In March of 1999, Bill introduced the "Firefighter Investment and Response Enhancement (FIRE) Act," the first comprehensive legislation dedicated to meet the special needs of America's 32,000 volunteer, paid and part-paid fire departments. In its final version, the "FIRE Act" authorized $400 million over two years in competitive grants to the nation's local fire departments.
Grants are awarded directly to local fire departments best able to identify their needs to be used to hire new personnel, initiate education and training programs, or to purchase new equipment. Paid, volunteer, and part-paid departments will all be eligible for the grants under the program, which is being administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Grants are awarded in seven categories: training, wellness/fitness programs, vehicles, firefighting equipment, personal protective equipment, fire prevention programs, and other miscellaneous grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements. Fire departments are eligible to apply for grants in up to two categories. Smaller departments serving communities of less than 50,000 must provide a ten-percent match in non-federal funds, while departments serving communities larger than 50,000 in population must provide a thirty-percent match.
Three types of grants are available: Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER), Fire Prevention and Safety (FP&S), and Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG).
There is not a limit on the maximum reward of this grant when it is used to purchase equipment, but there is a limit when it is used to fund hiring personnel. The limit of eligibility per applicant on firefighters is $108,380.
FP&S grants are limited to $1 million.
The maximum funding available under this grant depends on the population that is served by the fire department. If the fire department serves up to 500,000 people, it is eligible for up to $1 million. If the fire department serves 500,000 - 1,000,000 people, it is eligible for $1.75 million. If the fire department serves over 1,000,000 people it is eligible for $2.75 million.
|Eligible Organization||SAFER Activity Eligibility|
|Volunteer and Combination Fire Departments||Hiring Firefighters AND|
Recruitment and Retention of Volunteer Firefighters
|Career Fire Departments||Hiring Firefighters ONLY|
|Statewide and Local Volunteer Firefighter Interest Organizations||Recruitment and Retention of Volunteer Firefighters ONLY|
Eligible applicants for the Fire Prevention and Safety Activity include fire departments of national, state, local, or community organizations recognized in fire prevention and safety programs and activities. These include private and public nonprofit organizations.
AFG grants are available to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical services organizations. In order for an EMS organization to be eligible for a grant, that EMS organization cannot be affiliated with a hospital. This means not receiving any kind of direct support from the hospital, in conditions of supplies, personnel, or services.