Grant Details

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

    Previous awards are available at:

    Additional Information

    Ineligible expenses under the Hiring of Firefighters Activity include:
    • The salaries and benefits of firefighters who are current employees or were hired prior to the award date;
    • Funding promotions (e.g., pay a current member a higher salary by placing them in a new SAFER-funded position). If a department chooses to promote a current member, SAFER Grant funding may be used to fund the vacated firefighter position;
    • Pre-application costs, such as grant writer fees, administrative costs, and indirect costs associated with hiring or rehiring firefighters;
    • Costs to train and equip firefighters are ineligible;
    • Annual medical exams
    • Management and Administrative (M&A) costs.
    • Uniforms and physicals; or
    • Overtime costs.
    Ineligible expenses under the Recruitment and Retention of Volunteer Firefighters Activity include:
    • Salary and benefits for firefighters.
    • Retroactive payments or recognition for operational services rendered prior to the grant award are ineligible.
    • Costs incurred outside of the period of performance except for grant writer fees. 
    • Fire suppression equipment.
    • Vehicles
    • Fire simulators, fire evolution, or fire training props (e.g. burn trailers, forcible entry, rescue/smoke maze, flashover simulators).
    • Sirens, warning lights for private vehicles, or other outdoor warning devices.
    • Communication equipment including cell phones, pagers, portable radios, or Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) systems.
    • Video cameras/recording equipment.
    • Retroactive payments or recognition for non-operational activities (including payments, gift cards, recruitment bonuses, or stipends for recruiting firefighters).
    • Payments for travel to, or participation in leisure or social activities such as theatre tickets, entertainment tickets, and trips (e.g. professional sporting events).
    • Costs associated with award banquets, such as food, photographers, refreshments, entertainment, or rental facilities. Reimbursement for actual awards (e.g. plaques and trophies) is eligible.
    • Costs for food or refreshments that are not part of a conference or training hosted by the grant recipient.
    • Costs for training currently covered under the departments operating budget, e.g. tuition or instructor fees for department-mandated, basic-level training.
    • Services at a members personal residence (e.g. internet access, plowing of driveways)
    • Furniture (except for newly converted bunkrooms), televisions, fixtures, appliances (e.g. refrigerators), and entertainment equipment.
    • œGiveaways, such as pencils, pens, t-shirts, cups, mugs, or balloons, for recruitment events.
    • Fees for courses and training that are available free of charge on the internet or at a state/local training facilities (e.g. NIMS 100, 700, 800).
    • Costs for fuel.
    • Annual medical exams for existing members.
    • Payments for student loans.
    • Mileage reimbursement for responding to incidents or periodic operational training at the fire house (mileage reimbursement is allowed for other types of training as explained under eligible costs)
    • Station internet access/user fees and equipment to install internet (such as routers)
    • Continued funding of a Length of Service Award Programs (LOSAP) or Retirement Program
    • Computers in common areas or individual computers for training/education
    • Copiers/printers. Additional ineligible costs for Explorer/Cadet/Mentoring Programs. 
    • Ineligible PPE expenditures.


    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
    The following entity types are NOT eligible to apply to SAFER:
    • Federal fire departments and fire departments under contract to the Federal Government whose sole responsibility is the suppression of fires on federal installations or lands;
    • For-profit fire departments and organizations
    • Ambulance services, emergency medical service organizations, rescue squads, auxiliaries, dive teams, and urban search and rescue teams;
    • Non-federal airport or port authority fire departments whose sole responsibility is suppression of fires on the airport grounds or port facilities
    • Fire stations that are part of, controlled by, or under the day-to-day operational direction of a larger fire department or agency, or that are not otherwise independent;
    • State and local agencies, such as forest service, fire marshals, emergency management offices, hospitals, and training offices;

    Deadline Details

    Applications were to be submitted by January 18, 2019. A similar deadline is anticipated annually. 

    Award Details

    Up to $345,000,000 is available in total funding. 300 awards are expected to be made.

    • Hiring of Firefighters - Projects will last up to 36 months. The amount of federal funding provided for hiring a firefighter in any fiscal year may not exceed:
      • In the first year of the grant, 75% of the usual annual cost of a first-year firefighter in that department. Recipients must contribute 25% of actual costs. 
      • In the second year of the grant, 75% of the usual annual cost of a first-year firefighter in that department. Recipients must contribute 25% of actual costs. 
      • In the third year of the grant, 35% of the usual annual cost of a first-year firefighter in that department. Recipients must contribute 65% of actual costs. 
    • Retention and Recruitment of Volunteer Firefighters - Projects will last between 12 and 48 months. Cost sharing/matching is not required. 

    Usual annual costs includes 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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