Grant recipients must commit to retaining the SAFER-funded firefighter who fills these boots for a full year after the two-year period of performance ends.

Race Under Way for 2010 SAFER Grants

The emphasis in this year's grants is on hiring career firefighters and recruiting retaining volunteer firefighters.

The one-month application period for 2010 SAFER grants opened Tuesday. If past years are an indication, there will be very high demand for this year's $420 million pot of federal funding. FEMA, the DHS Federal Emergency Management Agency, will accept applications for the FY2010 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant Program until 5 p.m. EDT Sept. 17 and has posted extensive guidance and application materials at www.firegrantsupport.com.

The materials include program guidance, and applicant tutorial, application form, explanations of how applications are graded and what's new this year, and much more. This is a challenging process, with highest-ranked applications reviewed by peer panels and then given a technical review by the Program Office to determine the reasonableness of the applications.

This year, cost-share was eliminated and there is flexibility in the salary limits. Grants to hire new firefighters have a two-year period of performance, and grant recipients must commit to retaining the SAFER-funded firefighters for a full year after the period of performance ends.

Given highest consideration this year will be departments seeking to rehire laid-off firefighters. Second priority is retention of firefighters who may face layoffs in the future. Third is filling positions that were vacated through attrition but not filled because of economic circumstances. Fourth is hiring new firefighters.

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