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The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant FY 2016

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The application period for the SAFER grant FY 2016 will open on January 9th and end on the 10th of February 2017. One of three major grants that FEMA makes available to fire departments, the SAFER grant helps both professional and volunteer organizations with staffing so they have enough trained personnel to meet their communities’ needs as established by the National Fire Protection Association and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This year, a total of $345 million in federal funding for SAFER will be available.

Two Categories

The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response program offers grants in two different categories:

Hiring of Firefighters Activity - This grant provides funding to help fire departments acquire new personnel. Three-year grants are provided to fire departments so they can pay salaries and benefits to those hired in SAFER-funded positions.

Recruitment and Retention of Volunteer Firefighters Activity - This grant helps departments recruit and retain volunteer firefighters. The grants have a performance period of up to four years.


What Has Changed

Some of the changes for this year are listed below. Refer to the NOFO or the FAQ section for a complete list of all the changes and further information:

  • Funds from the Hiring of Firefighters Activity program may only be used to hire new additional firefighters and may not be used to supplant funds that would be otherwise available from other state, local, or BIA sources. The sub-divisions of "rehire," "retention," "attrition", and "new" are no longer applicable. Wavers for financial hardship are available.
  • The period of performance for SAFER Hiring of Firefighter Activity grants has been increased from two to three years. Extensions are not available.
  • Recipients of the Hiring of Firefighters Activity must now contribute a cost share toward the hiring cost of firefighters. The grant will cover 75 percent of the usual annual cost of a firefighter in the first and second year and 35 percent the third year. A hardship waiver is available (a match is not required for the Recruitment and Retention of Volunteer Firefighter Activity program).


Applying for the SAFER Grant

Eligible applicants for the Hiring of Firefighters Activity are career, volunteer, and combination fire departments. Eligible applicants for the Recruitment and Retention of Volunteer Firefighter Activity are volunteer and combination fire departments and tribal, national, state, and local volunteer firefighter interest organizations. The number to the technical assistance help desk is 866-274-0960 and the email firegrants@fema.dhs.gov. FEMA's Application Assistance Tools page has resources such as checklists, self-evaluations, and narrative advice to help you complete your application. Apply via The US Fire Administration, the FEMA portal, or Grants.gov by February 10, 2017.



FEMA will also offer live webinars on Monday, January 9th and Tuesday, January 10th from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm ET. Look under the topic SAFER Program Updates for the link to register.

Further Resources

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