Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER)

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    Funder Type

    Federal Government

    IT Classification

    C - Funds little to no technology


    Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)


    The SAFER Grant Program provides funding directly to fire departments and national, state, local, or tribal organizations representing the interests of volunteer firefighters to assist them in increasing the number of firefighters to help fire departments meet industry minimum standards and attain 24-hour staffing to protect communities from fire and fire related hazards, and to fulfill traditional missions of fire departments.

    The SAFER Grant Program is comprised of two categories: 

    • Hiring of Firefighters - Including subcategories for rehiring, retention, attrition, and new hires
      • First priority: Rehiring laid off firefighters 
      • Second priority: Retention of firefighters who face imminent layoff or filling positions vacated through attrition but not filled due to economic circumstances 
      • Third priority: Hiring new firefighters
    • Recruitment and Retention of Volunteer Firefighters 
      • First priority: Assist departments experiencing a high rate of turnover and with staffing levels significantly below the ideal staffing level required to comply with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards/

    The goal 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. SAFER intends to improve or restore local fire departments staffing and deployment capabilities so they may more effectively and safely respond to emergencies. With enhanced or restored staffing levels, grantees should see a reduction in response times and an increase in the number of trained personnel assembled at the incident scene.


    History of Funding

    As of September 2, 2022, FEMA has made 29 awards totaling $19.3 million. Previous awards are available at:

    Additional Information

    The following entity types are NOT eligible to apply to SAFER:

    • For-profit organizations, federal agencies, and individuals; 
    • Fire departments that are a Federal Government entity, or contracted by the Federal Government, and are solely responsible under a formally recognized agreement for suppression of fires on federal installations or land; 
    • Fire departments that are not independent entities but are part of, controlled by, or under the day-to-day operational command and control of a larger department, agency or AHJ; 
      • However, if a fire department is considered to be the same legal entity as a municipality or other governmental organization, and otherwise meets the eligibility criteria, that municipality or other governmental organization may apply on behalf of that fire department as long as the application clearly states that the fire department is considered part of the same legal entity.
    • State or local agencies, or subsets of any governmental entities, or any authorities that do not meet the requirements as defined by 15 U.S.C. § 2229a(a)(1)(A) and (a)(2); 
    • Ambulance services, emergency medical service organizations, rescue squads, auxiliaries, dive teams, and urban search and rescue teams; and, 
    • Non-federal airport or port authority fire departments whose sole responsibility is the suppression of fires on the airport grounds or port facilities, unless the airport/port fire department has a formally recognized arrangement with the local jurisdiction to provide fire suppression on a first-due basis outside the confines of the airport or port facilities. 
    • Eligible applicants may submit only one application for each eligible activity (Hiring Activity and R&R Activity); all submissions of duplicate applications may be disqualified. 
    • If an applicant submits two or more applications for the same activity, both applications may be disqualified. 
      • This is different from when where an entity is applying on behalf of other organizations that are agencies or instrumentalities of the applicant (e.g., multiple fire departments under the same county, city, borough, parish, or other municipality). In that situation, the applicant may request similar or the same costs as long as the application clearly states which costs (including quantities) are for which agency/instrumentality. This is permissible even if that entity submits multiple applications across regional versus direct applications.


    Fire Grant Program Technical Assistance Center

    Fire Grant Program Technical Assistance Center
    DHS/FEMA/Grant Programs Directorate
    800 K Street NW
    Washington, DC 20472
    (866) 274-0960

  • Eligibility Details

    Eligibility varies based on program area: 

    • Hiring of Firefighters - Career, combination, and volunteer fire departments are eligible to apply
    • Recruitment and Retention of Volunteer Firefighters - Combination fire departments; volunteer fire departments; and national, state, local, or tribal organizations that represent the interests of volunteer firefighters are eligible to apply

    Deadline Details

    Applications are to be submitted by March 17, 2023. A similar deadline is anticipated annually. 

    Award Details

    Available funding up to $360,000,000 is available in total funding. 300 awards are expected to be made.

    • Hiring of Firefighters -The period of performance for applications funded under the Hiring Activity will be 36 months. 
    • Retention and Recruitment of Volunteer Firefighters -The period of performance for applications funded under the R&R Activity will be 12, 24, 36, or 48 months. Cost sharing/matching is not required. 

    Usual annual costs include the base salary (exclusive of overtime) and standard benefits package (including the average health cost, dental, vision, FICA, life insurance, retirement/pension, etc.) offered by fire departments to first-year firefighters.

    Related Webcasts Use the links below to view the recorded playback of these webcasts

    • Maximizing Technology-friendly Workforce Development Grants - Sponsored by Panasonic - Playback Available
    • Funding Data-driven Workforce Development Projects - Sponsored by NetApp - Playback Available
    • Funding to Enhance Response, Investigation, and Prosecution of Domestic Violence - Sponsored by Panasonic - Playback Available


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