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  • Tax Payer Money

    Seem like there are no takers on my comment that this is "TAXPAYERS" MONEY AND "ALL" are entitled to it. If greed is the end result and you put in for items that you don't really need then you are depriving others companies and/or departments from getting their fair share. No one company should be getting it year after year when there are others whose need may be greater than theirs but may not have the grant writers or the time to devote get the "best" BS line to quality for a grant.
    Only my opinion not the companies.

  • #2
    "TAXPAYERS" MONEY AND "ALL" are entitled to it
    This is more a general political response: no one is ENTITLED to any benefit from tax dollars in this country. You are entitled to representation that you can express your opinion to about where you think your tax dollars should go, and it's called voting for the candidates for government that you feel best represent your views. But you lost all direct contact with that money the instant it ended up in the government's hands. Besides, more money would go to urban areas without the grant program because that would benefit more citizens. Remember, this country is based on providing for the majority, without infringing on the rights of everyone else. And your right to say where you money goes, doesn't exist since we are a democracy, and not a republic.

    As far as the grants go, I will more than take offense for those that have been awarded for your suggestion that we all put together the "best BS line". And I'll take offense for the peer reviewers, who according to your comment, must have been really stupid to have not seen through the BS, based on their decisions to award people that you don't agree with. I guess you're not from Diligent Vol. Fire Co. #3 of Jim Thorpe, PA, who was awarded on 7/11/03.

    I thought about not wasting my time responding. But since I had nothing else to do and I waste time in meetings at work all of the time, I thought I'd point out that your post is completely pointless since you don't make any indication of what is wrong with the system, other than the inference that you didn't win and you're bitter, and that you think that this should just turn into a welfare system, and every fire department in the country should get the same amount of money from FEMA. So that would be about what, $10,000 per department? That might double someone's budget, but would that help someone that really needs a pumper? Should FEMA cap the budget? Can't do that since budget has nothing to do with how much money the department has in the bank to buy things.

    If you want a response that does more than point out the fact that you're just bitching about something you're not happy with, make a suggestion for improvement. I don't agree with everything Chief Reason says but at least I respect him for making suggestions. I may not agree with them all, but at least he's making an effort to create dialogue to IMPROVE the program. Constant complaining that it doesn't work will do nothing but get the program shut down. The program works, it just doesn't work the way you want it to. Welcome to life. You aren't entitled to anything.
    Brian P. Vickers
    Emergency Services Consulting
    Westlake VFD - Houston, TX
    Proud Member IACOJ - Redneck Division


    • #3

      For the sake of fairness, Let's look at a few numbers.

      750 mil (Budget for Grant Program)
      divided by
      20,000 (# of applying depts)
      37,500 dollars a dept.

      hmm...I think if departments knew there was automatic free money coming their way, more would apply.

      750 mil (Budget)
      divided by
      250 mil (approx. total citizen in the USA)

      How's that for fair distribution? Take $3 for every citizen in your district? I'm sure NYC won't mind, they'd fill out an 1199a for $24 million dollars...

      Here's a better question...although I'm not complaining about free money coming my department's way, is it really the job of the federal government to supply local departments with neccesary equipment? Supplying departments to survive an attack from an outside target, yes, but residential house firefighting equipment?

      This program is not in the Fed's jurisdiction. And that scares me, because what other programs is the federal government putting money towards that they shouldn't be spending money on???

      In the meantime, I'm still awaiting my 6 questions...(How hypocritical of me!)

      P.S. Nice post time, BC...


      • #4
        BC nice post, but as in the past I would still tend to believe that no department should be awarded money in consecutive years or before other departments are awarded funding. Again, as in the past I understand the need for showing the need in the application and on the narrative part, but I still feel that 1. If these funds were distributed to departments that did not recieve funding in prior years then the government has met its obligtion by distributing money to more departments which in turn creates a benefit for more people. I am not saying to spread the money out for the 20k that applied this year, but to cut back on awards given to departments in consecutive years. The money amounts then would be increased tremendously compared to giving it out to the 20k yearly.

        Although I appreciate the opportunity to apply, and appreciate the effort you all did earlier in the process point 2 is this, why is there no pre investigation to departments requesting funds. I understand that the app and the narrattive are generaly a binding contract with FEMA and that you state your actual need is this and your actual budget is x amount of money. Still think that departments should be checked on prior to getting funds, hence keep more staff on to do this. We had this discussion before and my feeling still is, that some departments will do whatever it takes to get funds, Sad but true.

        Myself and others included appreciate the effort you have personaly made to assist other departments in the process, and as I said before we will be working with you this coming year. But explain how and application that made it to the final rounds the first two years can't make it to peer review this year. Got my form letter! Point 3 being this. Why for the amount of time it takes to get these awards out does FEMA not explain why we were not funded or why we did not make peer review. Was that not the way these letters were supposed to be put out this year.

        I am satisfied with the way the majority of these funds were distributed in our area this year. Some needy departments are going shopping as we converse. But again, the above items were sent of to FEMA by me. If it helps fine, if not at least I vented in the right spot I believe. For those of you who have concerns or questions about the processs, state them to the people who need to hear them, if not, ya really have no room for a complaint.

        STILL STANDING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


        • #5
          I can see the point of not having departments win consecutive grants. It spreads the money around, and I can't disagree with the merits of that. But who gets hurt by that? The departments that need everything. Some need new engines, tankers and rescues because they may not have any or are in a state of dis-repair. They may need an engine, but also proper equipment to go with it (LDH, fittings, new SCBA). Giving them the pumper would be great, but if they can't put enough hose on it to make it work right because they can't apply again for 2 years, what greater benefit to their community did giving them the truck actually do when they can't utilize any better than the old one?

          Some need new hose, new SCBA, a TIC, PPE but they can't afford to apply for it all in one year? Do they go for the PPE first, and then wait 2-3 years to maybe get some SCBA next time around. Quite a few departments I've conversed with have an SCBA count in the single digits. So everyone has new gear? Great. But you still have to trade air packs for the next two since we can't apply next year again. In my opinion, the departments that will get hurt worse by a limited application/award setup, are the departments that need it most.

          Now some of you may construe that to say that I just may have shot myself in the foot by saying that poor departments need the money more. But you can't just look at budget and say that a low budget spells out need. The two are not directly related in my opinion? Why you ask? Because, it comes back to call volume and population covered as the number one and two sets of statistics. If you do not have a lot of calls, you have less of a need for something than someone else in the same position with more calls and the same need. A department with a need for new SCBA and PPE, with 100 calls per year, will score lower than a department with identical population and budget, but runs 600 calls per year. Call volume and population are the single greatest indicators of the potential for death and injury to citizens and firefighters alike.

          To be honest, I am completely happy that my department's single greatest need is a ladder truck (quint). Because we put the priority on PPE, SCBA, TICs, and training with what money we have. Apparatus just gets you to a fire, it's the people that put it out. And yes, for the money that quint may cost we could outfit many rural departments with new SCBA and gear. But we could outfit 100 departments and their call volume and population wouldn't come close to ours. That is why urban and suburban departments will tend to win more awards. Call volume dictates need. The greater the population, the greater the density of stupid people to cause accidents and fires. These are concrete facts that have been statistically backed up by study after study. Which is why I've safely said, a ladder truck to us has more of a potential to save lives with 3600 calls per year and 40,000 people protected, than someone with 100 calls and 1500 people. I'm sorry if that may put a damper on your hopes, but those are the unfortunate facts of life. But I also haven't kidded myself for a second in thinking that my great writing ability won us that rescue last year. If we had only 500 calls and 10,000 people, we would not have been successful.

          Which is also why I encourage departments that don't need something to not apply for it. And I am disappointed that the first set of Dear John's didn't explain why those applications did not make it through into peer review. But I think it may be an attempt to keep departments honest because any explanation may give away the scoring weights, and cause some departments to "create" calls in one fashion or another. Either by pencil whipping, or by (gulp ) actually setting some. That's never the answer. And it would be easy to spot since they have your previous applications with call volumes on them, and census data is really easy to get, which is another reason that they may ask for congressional district.

          I'm not saying I have THE answer. But there is no simple solution. Everyone has to remember that this program wasn't just thrown together. I did happen to meet former FEMA Director Joe Albaugh while taking delivery of the rescue. He said that several years of planning went into all of the guidance and rules, and that hundreds of fire service leaders from across the country were involved. So odds are, someone in your own community helped to define the program. I'm not saying seek them out and take issue with them, but this wasn't just another program the feds thought up as a campaign issue.
          Brian P. Vickers
          Emergency Services Consulting
          Westlake VFD - Houston, TX
          Proud Member IACOJ - Redneck Division


          • #6
            Brian, the point is not every department that needs everything is getting everything year by year, nor are some of the departments that need everything gettting anything, so to me at least having something is better than having nothing. Besides who is to say that they would get funded again if different apps were rated even higher the next year. Again, I believe that it is not the Governments job to fund the fire service, nor is it their job to fund daily operations. I do believe however that we sell and market ourselves totaly opposite than the Police departments do when it comes to finding funding sources or creating them. Guess it goes back to showing the government in black and white the need for funding as police agencies have for years. Hell we can not even agree on what NFIRS system to use. Let alone compile much needed data to prove our need.

            Don't get me wrong. I know of quite a few departments that have nothing and can use everything. So do we fund them first before we fund others that have a budget but it is limited at best, or do we fund departments with sound budgets also but are able to still show the need. I also do not have the answers, but I feel that funding more departments is what the system was intended for.

            If we funded x amount of departments this year, then we started next year by recalling the departments that made peer review but were not funded and asked them if what they applied for last year was still a need of theirs. If it doesn't because they found alternative funding then they need to reapply, but if it does still meet their needs why then not fund them first. Just a thought.

            Believe me, I understnad that there is a need to assist the small volley departments as well as the larger paid folks. People need to see that because a department is paid (which we are not) does not mean that they have a large budget for equipment, training, or vehicles, some just get by as do the wee little volley departments.

            As for the process taking years to develop. I kinda figured that was the case. But in hindsight I think they should have had their thinking caps on for these questions, and I think in that period of time they could have developed a letter saying why you were not funded as well as why you app was funded and that would have gave the departments more insight as to how to do it the way they want it. Brian you hit the nail on the head though when you said people would dummy up runs or totals, hence my qeustion as to why there is no initial inspection of the department before they are funded so that the same games are not being played already.

            STILL STANDING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


            • #7
              or the time to devote
              If you can't "put in the time" to properly research and document a needed item for a grant, then you don't deserve the grant. Not enough time to devote....that is the lamest excuse I have seen yet.

              I too think the process is far from perfect. And I too have gone back and forth with BC on some points. And I too will comment that BC's posts on this thread have been right on the mark.

              Stay Safe.
              "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?


              • #8
                This subject on how to distribute grant funds has just about surpassed any expectations I had on how far some will go to disguise greed. I guess most of you that are getting what you want have no desire to see that once you get funding then you have to sit out a specified period of time so the less fortunate, uneducated, less populated, those that want benefit the most can get a little of the hog feed. Oh, I guess we can take your hand-me downs. But let's look at at it this way. If your hand-me-downs are still safe for us to use then it's still good enough for your departments. Some of you talk about the relative value of funding one grant vs another. There is no way to analytically judge the danger one dept faces vs another. The business we are in is dangerous to all. And probably more dangerous to the underfunded, undertrained dept and maybe that should give them some relative edge in the grant process. Too many people here are riding ego trips that we all pay for, tax money. For some of you commenters to say that it must meet the criteria of benfiting the most, then some will never qualify for the grant. Maybe congress should wake up to this fact. Maybe congress isn't aware that a program they authorized funding for to raise every dept to an acceptable level of operation and safety of firefighters is now
                a government give away program to those that have the system figured out.


                • #9
                  There is no way to analytically judge the danger one dept faces vs another.
                  Sure there is. If I go into 3 fires a week and you have 3 a year, who's life is being placed in more danger? Hmmmm.

                  And probably more dangerous to the underfunded, undertrained dept and maybe that should give them some relative edge in the grant process.
                  If you think that training has anything to do with budget I hope you're not the training officer, or any officer for that matter. You train with the equipment you have on hand because that's what you use on a scene. Underfunded and undertrained are two seperate issues. Underfunded you have limited control over, but if you can't get your crews trained, that's your fault. If you try and say that you don't have enough equipment for training, what do you plan on doing on a fire? Live fire training is essential, but it ain't everything. Pulling hose, operating nozzles, search and rescue, forcible entry, ventilation, ladders, etc, etc, can all be done without live fire. Our recruits only go through one live burn before being cleared. And other than 4-5 sheets of plywood for ventilation practice, I only spend $50 for hay, and $50 to use the county fire field. It doesn't take money to train people, it takes people willing to train people.

                  then some will never qualify for the grant
                  Yep, some won't ever qualify for a grant. That's why it's a competitive grant program and not a welfare check. Some can't compete, and that's the way of the world. This was never set up to be a bandaid for the entire fire service, and if you thought all your problems would get solved by this program, then I can't take the fall for your disillusionment from the beginning. I'm sorry if you're on the short end of the stick, but last time I checked the only thing welfare brought was more greed for more money for doing less work. And the funny thing is, you have to qualify for welfare too, that's not a straight handout either.

                  Maybe congress should wake up to this fact.
                  They already know. As with any law they had to approve ALL facets of this program including the guidance and rules documents. If you talk to your rep I don't think they were under any illusion that this was a fix-all program.

                  If your hand-me-downs are still safe for us to use then it's still good enough for your departments.
                  I agree 100%. PPE should be PBI or equivalent, SCBAs should have integrated PASS. Other than that, I don't condone replacing something you already have. But if you decide to do so, and you get funding, pass on the good fortune. Someone else somewhere has something worse.

                  Besides, even if you limit funding to every other year, you'll still have departments get denied every year. You're basing your assumptions on the number of applications received. Figure out how many departments didn't apply and redo your numbers. PA has over 3,800 departments, and only 1,900 applied. Less than 40% of Texas departments applied. Limit awards to every other year, and you'll probably have more applications per year than you do now, and some still won't get funding.
                  Brian P. Vickers
                  Emergency Services Consulting
                  Westlake VFD - Houston, TX
                  Proud Member IACOJ - Redneck Division


                  • #10
                    Fire service 39 years
                    Fire Chief last 3 years
                    ISO rating was a 7 three yrs ago today our ISO rating is a 3
                    I'm not the training officer but I sure try very hard to ensure the training budget has adequate funds for training.


                    • #11
                      2 cents here.

                      This is my first year applying to the Fire Grant. I did the grant for 3 area departments, I have gotten the questions and 1199A for one of them so far. This money is needed for basic and critical safety equipment. Next year I plan on again filling out three grants, yes, even for the department that got one this year. I am planning on this because it is my job to atempt to provide the best possible equipment to our local fire fighters.

                      I am sorry that other departments may go unfunded, that is not right and it should change. More money to spread around, a possible change in the system. But that to put it bluntly is not my problem. My concern is with the local VFDs, which have charged me with getting them equipment that they need. The big picture is in the hands of FEMA, the peer reviwers, and what other powers that be. It is my job to be concerned on a local level, so thats what I do.

                      If I can get my guys better gear, more gear, up to date gear, then I am going to try to, even if it means that I may or may not be takeing a piece of the pie away from another department. That is not my call, it is the peer reviewers call. I am confident that if I do not have a legit request or if the money is needed elsewhere worse, then it will work itself out. I may or may not get my project funded, but I am not going to stop trying just because of a little guilt over getting basic equipment funded by taxpayers on a national level for my local jurisdiction.

                      So, what I am saying is that I am going to get as much funding for gear and equipment now while I have a chance, because all to often such gifts will one day be gone. I am not going to loose sleep over trying to make sure my comrads have all that they need to fight fire, and maybe a little left over for a rainy day, or for when funding is scarce.
                      -Brotherhood: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
                      -Mistakes: It could be that the purpose of you life is to serve as a warning to others.

                      -Adversity: That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable.

                      -Despair: Its always darkest before it goes Pitch Black.


                      • #12
                        And your right to say where you money goes, doesn't exist since we are a democracy, and not a republic.
                        This is not true; we are a republic. We may follow the ideas of a representitive democracy, but more often this country is run as a demogogy, bound by the prejudices and passions of the majority.
                        Member IACOJ


                        • #13
                          Food for thought:

                          Set up rules, and people will figure out how to play them to their advantage.

                          If you look at my county, we have 34 independent fire departments staffing 35 stations. One FD is paid, all the others are volunteer (although combo isn't very far off, imho).

                          That's a potential for 34 FIRE Act grants, per year.

                          FIRE Act already has a slight favoritism of paid departments -- they protect 40% of the population, get 40% of the money, but there's numerically a lot fewer career departments to carve up their 40% than the multitude of volunteer departments carving up their 60% -- so the few paid departments in my part of the state tend to do well.

                          Anyway, if you consolidated into a single county wide department, you know have 1 (one) possible application a year, and the very good chance of that paid department would become very dilute since it would now go on the volunteer side of the ledger.

                          In the other direction, start tying a sizeable pool of money to "departments", you might very well see new fire departments being started to play the money game.

                          In all seriousness, we merged with another department back in 1995, I was one in the great minority that said, "You know, maybe we should keep them incorporated as a subsidary..." since on paperwork for grants and such, unless you're from the area, you wouldn't really be able to tell whether they where an actual independent FD or a "shadow" corporation. Just last year in response to an unrelated financial matter there was brief discussion again about forming a new corporate structure that essentially would've had a publicly-funded side and a privately-funded side.

                          Just saying, if you say you can only get one grant per year, you could end up with a situation with "overlaid" fire departments applying seperately for grants, and there'd pretty much be nothing on the federal level right now to check against that (their new census may pick it up, but I'm not sure -- and even at that, with multiple stations it would be easy to create a phantom structure to increase odds at receiving grants)

                          We're moving towards a small stipend for our Ambulance crews here -- at that's a bit contentious (both on whether to and how to implement it). Once you throw money on the table, people are gonna scrap and fight for it. Forget about being "nice" or "fair" or ever developing a bureaucratic structure to dole it out fairly. It's one of the reasons if we go to the stipend I want paid-per-call since it can't be manipulated easily like some of the other schemes proposed. But on the level of the FIRE Act if you go to something quantifiable like Population, Call Volume, etc to dole it out on, why bother having the Feds involved since those are generally based on local conditions and you can simply tax locally at appropriate levels to get your $3/person or whatever it is.

                          It's a game. Here's the rules. Play.
                          IACOJ Canine Officer


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