The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that the application period for the Fiscal Year (FY) SAFER grant program will open on January 30 and end at 5:00 pm (EST) on February 24. The purpose of the SAFER grant program is to assist local fire departments with staffing and deployment capabilities in order to respond to emergencies, and assure that communities have adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards. The program includes two categories: Hiring of Firefighters and the Recruitment and Retention of Volunteer Firefighters.
The IAFC urges its members to apply for the SAFER grant programs and utilize this opportunity to build the emergency response capability in their jurisdictions. Because of the efforts of the IAFC and its allies on Capitol Hill, the following conditions are in effect for the Hiring Firefighters Activity:
- There are no annual salary limits.
- There is no prescribed cost-share.
- Grantees do not have to commit to retaining the SAFER-funded firefighters beyond the two-year period of performance. However, no firefighter layoffs are permitted during the grants period of performance. FY 2011 grantees that are unable to back-fill firefighting positions that are vacated due to documentable economic hardship across their jurisdiction’s entire public safety sector may petition FEMA for a waiver of the staffing maintenance requirements.
- FEMA strongly encourages applicants to seek, recruit, and hire post-9/11 veterans.
For the Hiring of Firefighters Activity, the following priorities are in effect:
- Rehiring laid-off firefighters
- Retention of firefighters who face imminent layoff and/or filling positions vacated through attrition but not filled due to economic circumstances
- Hiring new firefighters
For more highlights of the program, including special instructions on completing the FY 2011 SAFER Hiring Grant application, FEMA's has created an online summary.
It also is recommended that interested members thoroughly read the complete SAFER grant guidance and utilize all of the other tools available on the DHS’s SAFER grant program webpage, including “Get Ready” Guides, and self-evaluation tools to help departments see how their applications might fare in the peer review process.