Helping Those Who Serve: Developing an Assistance to Firefighters Grant Application

The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) is creating support for its volunteer fire departments across the United States. Volunteer fire departments have the opportunity three times a year to apply for Assistance to Firefighter Grants (AFG).

However, each year our office gets questions about where they can turn to for assistance in writing these grants. Each AFG application has a box on it that allows grant writers the option to apply for funding for their support if the grant is accepted. This will be determined between the writer and the volunteer fire department applying.

Fire departments and non-affiliated EMS agencies can get funding through AFG to purchase equipment, apparatus and training. These grants are especially important to volunteer fire departments, which make up about 85 percent of the fire service but often struggle to adequately and safely equip their station and personnel.

One challenge fire departments face is writing the grant narrative for the AFG application. Volunteer departments often do not have a designated grant-writer and some find the task of putting together a federal grant application daunting. Community members such as teachers may consider offering their services to their local department to help them write or edit their grant narrative to increase the chances of the department’s success in obtaining an AFG grant.

AFG is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which has posted a number of guidance materials to help fire departments and grant writers develop applications, including:

  •  NOTICE OF FUNDING OPPORTUNITY (NOFO) contains the key programmatic updates and application requirements for all eligible applicants.
  • The GET READY GUIDE is designed to give you a kick-start in preparing your application.  It will help better prepare you to thoroughly answer the application questions.
  • The SELF-EVALUATION ASSISTANCE sheets are designed to help you understand the criteria that you must address in your Narrative Statement when applying for the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) Program. There are two sheets: one for OPERATIONS & SAFETY and one for  VEHICLE ACQUISITION.
  • The APPLICATION CHECKLIST will help you prepare your grant application. Collecting this information beforehand will reduce the time and energy needed to complete your application.
  • The COST SHARE CALCULATOR allows you to determine your organizations Local Cost Share for grants. It is important to familiarize yourself with FEMA’s administration of cost-sharing requirements.The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) strongly recommends that anyone developing an AFG application carefully review all applicable guidance materials published by FEMA prior to beginning an application, particularly the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to ensure that the application is in line with the grant criteria.

If a retiree would be interested in assisting volunteer fire departments from across the United States write their grant and/or grant narrative, please email FASNY Past Director Brian F. McQueen, NVFC Executive Committee, at You will be asked to fill out a data form that will be kept on file and shared with interested volunteer fire departments. This form will include your name, address and contact information only.