Firefighters/EMS Grant Opens; Federal Funding can help pay for equipment

ems-tlsApplications for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) offered by the federal government will be accepted beginning yesterday, Oct.11, 2016, Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) announced today. The application period for the FY 2016 AFG Program will close on Friday, Nov. 18, 2016 at 5 p.m. EST.

“The AFG program is one of the best federal grants to help protect our firefighters and emergency medical service responders as they do their jobs protecting the community, including people, homes, businesses and public property,” said Smith, a long-time member of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus who helped create the equipment grant program in 2000. “I encourage every fire company and first aid squad to consider applying for this grant before the deadline.”

Under the AFG program, millions of dollars have come to New Jersey firefighters and EMS for equipment such as radios, self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), turn out gear (firefighting suits, boots and helmet) and even vehicles such as ladders, pumpers and ambulances.

“A number of local fire companies and EMS have received grants over the years, but I would like to see even more,” Smith said. “If a past application was rejected, or if other grants have been received, fire companies and EMS should consider trying again this open grant period. They can contact my office if they need assistance. We have been able to overcome some hurdles for applicants in the past. But the key first step is to not miss the deadline.”

The grant comes through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grants Operations and Safety Grant Program. It is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration.

The purpose of AFG is to award grants directly to fire departments and non-affiliated Emergency Medical Services organizations (EMS) to protect both the health and safety of the public and first-responder personnel. A competitive process—overseen by fire service subject matter experts—awards grants to applicants whose requests are aligned with the priorities of the AFG Program. For more about the FY 2016 AFG Program please visit, or contact the AFG Program Help Desk at 1-866-274-0960 or via email at [email protected].

Generally, for towns of less than 20,000, there is a 5 percent applicant match. For towns of over 20,000 residents (but less than one million) there is a 20 percent applicant match.

Interested organizations are eligible to submit up to three applications under the following categories for FY 2016: Operations and Safety for professional training, wellness and fitness programs equipment, personal protective equipment, modifications to facilities, and supplies that support firefighting and non-affiliated EMS operations and safety; Vehicle Acquisition for: pumpers, aerials, brush trucks, tankers/tenders, rescue vehicles, ambulances; and Regional Grants in which multiple organizations serving more than one local jurisdiction would benefit directly from the activities requested with grant funds.

Congress created the program to upgrade capabilities of local firefighters to respond to fires and fire-related hazards, such as vehicular accidents. Since 2001, the AFG has provided over $6 billion in grants to first-responder organizations to obtain much-needed emergency response equipment, personal protective equipment, firefighting and emergency vehicles, and training. During the most recently awarded fiscal year (FY) 2015 grants, the AFG awarded over $300 million to first-responder organizations that need support to improve their capability to respond to fires and emergencies of all types.

Congressman Smith, who represents New Jersey’s Fourth Congressional District in the House of Representatives, has offices in Mercer, Monmouth, and Ocean Counties. Inquiries regarding the AFG program can be directed to the Monmouth County office located at 112 Village Center Drive, Raintree Towne Center, 2nd floor, (732) 780-3035.


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