SAFER grant program adds incentive for fire departments hiring veterans

By Jerry Brant

FEMA announced in December the availability of additional financial resources for recipients of 2013 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants — if they hire military veterans.

The SAFER program has set aside an additional $20 million for the Veterans Hiring Program, which provides successful grant awardees the opportunity to request additional funds to recruit or hire military veterans to fill SAFER-funded positions. The deadline to apply for the additional funding isJune 1, 2014.

Under the Veterans Hiring Program, a military veteran is defined as an individual who has served on active duty at any time in the armed forces for a period of more than 180 consecutive days, and who has been discharged or released from active duty in the armed forces under honorable conditions.

The grant conditions
All successful awardees will have the option to submit an amendment request to extend SAFER funding from two to three years for veterans’ positions. In conjunction with the additional funding, the performance period will be extended for the number of SAFER-funded positions being filled by military veterans.

The Veterans Hiring Program will not apply to departments that requested SAFER funding to retain firefighters who were in danger of being laid off. Also, if you are awarded SAFER funds, you cannot change the category under which your department applied. In addition, you will not be able to increase the number of firefighting positions you requested under your original application.

Note that departments do not have any obligation to retain the SAFER-funded firefighters after the conclusion of the performance period.

How to apply
All 2013 SAFER applicants will be told of their eligibility for the Veterans Hiring Program when they receive their award announcement from FEMA. Under separate cover, grantees will receive information about how to request additional funds for SAFER Veteran hires and the documentation required.

While the deadline to submit a 2013 SAFER Veterans Hiring Program amendment request is June 1, funding is limited, and requests will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis.

In other words, if your department is selected for SAFER funding under the appropriate hiring categories, you should move quickly to file your amendment. Because this program allocates an additional year of funding, eligible awardees will likely snap up these resources quickly.

If you do not receive a separate email message about the veterans program within a week, then you should contact the Help Desk or your regional FEMA office. You can contact the Help Desk with questions or concerns by calling 866-274-0960 or email at firegrants@fema.dhs.gov.

About the author

Jerry Brant is a Senior Grant Consultant and Grant Writer with FireGrantsHelp and EMSGrantsHelp. He has 40 years of experience as a volunteer firefighter in rural west central Pennsylvania. He is a life member of the Hope Fire Company of Northern Cambria, where he served as chief for 15 years. He is currently an active member of the Patton Fire Company #1. For 20 years, Jerry was employed as the executive director and then president of a small non-profit community development corporation. Jerry has successfully written more than $52 million in grant applications and proposals. Jerry can be reached at Jerry.Brant@FireGrantsHelp.com.

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