How to land a private-sector fire prevention grant

Federal Fire Prevention and Safety grants are extremely competitive; look to outside sources to help fund your programs

In the next few weeks, we anticipate the Federal Emergency Management Agency to issue the Notice of Funding Opportunity for the 2016 Fire Prevention & Safety grant.

Historically, the FP&S grant has between $32 million to $35 million available for fire prevention activities and research and development projects.

Typical fire prevention activities are designed to reach high-risk target groups and reduce frequencies of deaths and injuries caused by fire and fire-related hazards. The safety portion of the program targets research and development, focusing on firefighter safety equipment and related topics.

The FP&S grant program has been extremely competitive in the past, and this year looks to follow that trend.

If you averaged out the grant awards, there would be only about $700,000 per state. What has clouded this figure in the past is that the program is open to nonprofit groups as well as fire departments.

Many of these national nonprofits have received multimillion dollar FP&S grants in the past. To try to level the playing field last year, FEMA initiated a micro grant for FP&S. Even with this modification, smaller departments still had a difficult time competing for FP&S funds.

One option is to seeking funding for your fire prevention program from non-government sources. One such possibility is FM Global Insurance.

Private-sector grant

Through its fire prevention grant program, fire departments and brigades, as well as national, state, regional, local and community organizations can apply for funding to support a wide variety of fire prevention, preparedness and control efforts, including pre-fire planning, fire prevention education/training and arson prevention/fire investigation.

Some examples of grants funded in the past include:

  • Pre-fire planning: computer software programs and laptops.
  • Fire prevention education and training: community outreach initiatives, workshops and publications.
  • Arson prevention and fire investigation: juvenile fire-setter programs, continuing education courses, digital and specialized cameras and accelerant detection equipment.

Research indicates that FM Global grants have mainly been in the $500 to $4,000 range for successful applications. This could easily provide funding for a small fire prevention program or it could provide seed money for your initiative.

Applicants that clearly demonstrate a need for funding whose program will have a significant impact on preventing fire loss are the most competitive. In your application, it is also important to provide ample detail and documentation about your need and your project to support your request.

Applicants must be a governmental unit of a city, town, county, state, commonwealth, the District of Columbia, possession of the United States, the United States itself or any political subdivision as described in Section 170(b)(1)(A)(v) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service Code or a 501(c)(3) or (4) tax-exempt organization under the U.S. Internal Revenue Service Code.

Grant applications are reviewed three times per year. Deadlines for receipt of applications are March 31, July 31 and Nov. 30. Decisions on awards are made approximately four months after deadline.

Previous grant recipients may reapply for funding three years from the date of their initial award letter. For applications that did not receive a grant award, applicants may reapply for funding one year from the date of their notification letter.

In this competitive grant segment, it is important to examine options beyond what the federal government offers.  

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