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Grants for First Responders & Volunteer Fire Departments

Owen Demmerly, CFP®

“All for one, and one for all!”

I cannot help but think of the true meaning of this phrase, especially when regarding our first responders.

“All for one”- We leave no one behind. The community should act for the benefit of everyone. If one person faces problems, the whole community faces them together.

“One for all”- Each person acts for the benefit of the community.

COVID-19 has put financial stress on individuals, businesses, and most of all our first responders. During these times of difficulty for our nation and our world, our first responders are stepping up to the front lines–“one for all”. This is a dangerous fight that puts their health, and health of their family, at risk.

Thankfully, our government has created several grants to provide financial support to our first responders, and specifically our fire departments. The various programs are outlined below:

For Individuals

The most relevant grant for individuals is offered by the First Responders Children’s Foundation. First responders who have experienced, or are experiencing, financial hardship because of COVID-19 can apply for a $1,000 grant. This grant also supports the families of first responders that have made the ultimate sacrifice by paying for funeral expenses and college scholarships for their children (COVID-19 related). To apply you can visit

For Fire Departments

There are several grants now open through FEMA to provide aid.

  1. Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (or AFG-S)
    1. Created under the CARES Act, applications for this grant are being accepted until May 15th, and grantees are anticipated to be chosen by June 5th.
    2. This grant is available to departments to cover the expense of obtaining specialized personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies needed to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19. PPE includes items like protective coveralls, gloves, respirators, eye protection, and more.
    3. Departments can apply for this grant to cover future expenses, as well as expenses that have already been incurred since January 1, 2020.
    4. There is also a Local Cost Share component to this grant that is based on the population size of your jurisdiction. The maximum cost-sharing component is 15% and can be estimated by utilizing FEMA’s calculator here:
    5. There is also the opportunity to apply for a regional application or micro-grant through this program.

Helpful Tips:

  • Apply early for AFG-S! To apply for this grant, the Authorized Representative for your organization can log in here: You will need to be registered with a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number in the System for Award Management (SAM) to apply for this grant. Information to complete your FEMA GO account with a DUNS number registered in the SAM system can be found here:
  • If the grant is received, there are reporting responsibilities to be aware of. For example, the recipient must spend 80% or more of the average 2018 & 2019 cost for qualifying grant items during the qualifying grant period.
  • FEMA will rank applications based on how well they match the program priorities for the type of jurisdiction(s) served–things they will consider include: financial stability, quality of management systems and ability to meet management standards, history of performance in managing federal awards, reports, and findings from audits, and the ability to effectively implement statutory, regulatory, or other requirements.
  • Other important factors for this grant include department call volume and the population size of your jurisdiction.
  • Funding is capped at a maximum of $1 million but can go up to $9 million for extraordinary needs (extraordinary maximum varies based on jurisdiction population).
  1. Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response Grant (SAFER)
    1. This grant is specifically for the funding of hiring paid personnel, or the recruitment and retention of volunteers
    2. Grant applications are being accepted now through May 15th.
  2. Fire Prevention and Safety Grant (FP&S)
    1. This grant is geared towards the enhancement of community risk reduction programs (fire prevention)
    2. Grant applications are currently being accepted through May 29th.

In their time of need, I’ve proud that our government is stepping up to meet the needs of our first responders who are on the front lines through these various programs.  If your fire department needs assistance navigating these programs or has other questions, please reach out to me directly.