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Ultimate Guide to SAFER Grants

Ultimate Guide to SAFER Grants

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Eligible Program Activities

The Hiring of Firefighters Activity involves a grant with a five-year period of performance that provides fire departments with funding to pay a portion of the salaries and benefits of newly hired firefighters. These grants are awarded directly to volunteer, combination, and career fire departments to help the departments increase their number of frontline firefighters. Having more firefighters on staff should enhance the local fire department’s abilities to comply with staffing, response, and operational standards established by NFPA and OSHA.

Funding Priorities

The highest priority under this activity is to provide funding to departments: that are not in compliance with national standards promulgated by the NFPA and OSHA and adopted by DHS; and, that can be brought into compliance with the standards in the most economical manner.

SAFER grants are focused only on the “Deployment” or “Staffing and Deployment” sections of these two standards (respectively). Information about these standards is available on the on the NFPA website at

The National Fire Protection Association has established a special link that provides information about these two standards. For more information on the standards, contact NFPA at 1-800-344-3555, or e-mail questions to

Training Requirements

As a condition of this grant, applicants must provide assurance that their newly hired firefighters will be certified at the Firefighter I level within the first six months of employment AND that their new recruits will be trained to Firefighter II level or equivalent within the first two years of their employment. Applicants who fail to do so will not be considered for award. Awardees are required to submit documentation of training and certification fulfillment within the stated program deadlines. Awardees who fail to follow through on these requirements may be required to return all or a portion of all of the Federal funds disbursed under the grant, and may be disqualified from participation in future AFG and SAFER award cycles. The relevant NFPA standard is as follows:

  • NFPA 1001 Standard for Firefighter Professional Qualifications (Firefighter-I and Firefighter-II). This standard identifies the minimum job performance requirements for career and volunteer firefighters whose duties are primarily structural in nature. The purpose of this standard is to specify the minimum job performance requirements for firefighters. It is not the intent of the standard to restrict any jurisdiction from exceeding these requirements.

Applicants that will have trained their new recruits to have EMS certification to the minimum level established by the local agency having jurisdiction will receive higher consideration.

Call Volume and Population Served: Department call volume and the population serviced will both be factored into the initial evaluation. Departments that respond to a high number of incidents and protect higher numbers of people will receive higher consideration than departments that respond to fewer incidents or protect a smaller jurisdiction.

Firefighter Health Measures: The criteria development panel also recommended that, because the health and wellbeing of firefighters is of paramount importance, applicants who indicate that their newly recruited firefighters will undergo an entry-level physical and receive immunizations will receive higher consideration than applications that do not specify that these benefits will be provided.

Meeting the Four-Firefighter Standard: The criteria development panel recommended and DHS concurs that, for the purposes of the SAFER grants, a safe and efficient initial attack requires a minimum of four firefighters. Therefore, applicants who come into compliance with the minimum four firefighter standard for the first arriving engine (or vehicle capable of initiating suppression activities), with the fewest number of additional personnel, will receive higher consideration than applicants seeking a higher number of additional personnel.

Other Priorities: Fire departments that have formal automatic and/or mutual aid agreements and applicants whose request is based on a staffing needs assessment will also receive higher consideration.