Ultimate Guide to SAFER Grants
SAFER Grant Logo
The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants are managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) Program Office. SAFER grants provide financial assistance to help fire departments increase their cadre of frontline firefighters.
The goal is to assist the local fire departments’ staffing and deployment capabilities, in order to respond to emergencies whenever they occur, assuring that their communities have adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards. The SAFER grants have two activities that will help grantees in this endeavor: (1) hiring of firefighters and (2) recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters.
In Fiscal Year 2008, Congress appropriated a total of $190 million to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for SAFER grants.
The authority for SAFER is derived from the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974 (15 U.S.C. 2201 et seq.), as amended. Appropriated funds are available for award until September 30, 2009. Once awarded, the funds are available for expenditure by the grantee for the full period of grant performance.
How You Can Use the Money
SAFER Grants are primarily for the recruitment and retention of firefighting staff. Cash payments given directly to members for participation in activities for recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters, other than those directly linked to operational services, are not eligible. Stipends, such as pay-on-call, and payments of lost wages resulting from attending training and/or participating in operational services, are eligible, if included as part of the grantee’s fringe benefit package and supported by formal personnel policies and/or standard operating procedures.
Contributions to individual member retirement accounts are eligible if the activity is highly rated during the application review process and is included as part of the grantee’s fringe benefit package and supported by formal personnel policies and/or standard operating procedures. However, incentives for retention (such as contributions into a retirement account) cannot be retroactive.
Ineligible uses of funds include cash payments for years of service or membership and payment for travel for pleasure. Costs associated with award banquets (such as food, facilities, or entertainment) are not eligible; however costs for non-cash awards are eligible.
The limited funding available for SAFER activities precludes the award of funds for operational activities, such as the equipment and training of newly hired or recruited firefighters. Therefore, personal protective clothing, firefighting equipment, and costs for providing training to the firefighter minimum-staffing level, as offered in the Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) grant program, are not eligible. However, applicants receiving SAFER funding will receive priority consideration in applying for funding under subsequent cycles of the AFG program. In this case, applicants will be reviewed by the AFG peer evaluation, provided that the AFG funds would be used to support SAFER-funded activities.