Use the SAFER Grant to Get a New Fire Department Sign

In 2018, Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants awarded $350 million to fire departments around the country. There is no limit on the amount of funding your fire department can receive, and you can use these funds to invest in a new sign to improve recruiting, retention, and more in your fire department. Thinking about applying for a SAFER grant? Want more details on how to get a grant for a fire department sign? Here’s what you should know.

What Is a SAFER Grant?

SAFER grants are funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). These awards help fire departments attract new firefighters, retain existing firefighters, and stay compliant with regulations established by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

The grant has two main components: one designed to fund the hiring of firefighters and another for the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters. To receive funding for an outdoor LED sign for your fire department, you need to apply for a grant in the second category (recruitment and retention).

Who Can Apply for SAFER Grants?

Career, volunteer, and combination fire departments can all apply for SAFER grants to fund the hiring of firefighters. However, if you want to use the funds for a sign, you must apply for a recruitment and retention grant, and you must be a volunteer fire department, a combination fire department, or a national, state, local, or federally recognized tribal organization. Career fire departments cannot apply for this grant.

How to Use SAFER Grants for Outdoor LED Signs

When you apply for a SAFER grant for recruitment and retention, you can choose from a variety of categories to explain how you plan to spend the funds. Signage falls into the marketing category. You can apply for funding for print materials, which includes signs, billboards, and newspaper marketing. Compared to other marketing mediums, however, LED signage has a significantly lower cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM). With the decline of consumer exposure to advertisements on traditional mediums like television and newspaper, LED signage is the most effective way to spend your SAFER grant funds.

Fire Department LED Signs

On the application, you must note a specific description of the sign, its cost, how you determined the cost, and how it helps with recruitment. To increase the chances of being considered for SAFER grant awards, be sure to have a strong explanation of the role your sign will play in recruiting volunteer firefighters. If you use a SAFER grant to purchase an LED sign, 75% of the sign's usage must be dedicated to recruitment and retention activities.

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How to Apply for a SAFER Grant

You must apply for SAFER grants online – there are no paper applications. The application portal is only open during the application period, which may change from year to year. You can find links to the portal on the US Fire Administration (USFA) section of the FEMA website.

For help, review government application assistance tools or contact the SAFER Program Help Desk at 866-274-0960 for technical assistance. If you purchase an LED fire department sign from Stewart Signs, we can also help you with this process.

Information Required on the Grant Application

To ensure you have everything you need for your application, you should prepare by using the application checklist. Your fire department must have an active and valid System for Award Management (SAM) registration — check your listing to make sure that it has the correct Dun and Bradstreet (DUNS) and Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your fire department.

On top of that, your application requires the following details:

  • Square mileage of first-duty response area
  • Percentage of primary response are protected by fire hydrants
  • List of crucial infrastructures protected by your department
  • Percentage of agricultural, commercial/industrial, and residential land in your area
  • The permanent and seasonal resident population
  • Number and location of stations in your organization
  • Whether you have a formal automatic or mutual aid agreement with another fire department
  • Services provided such as airport rescue, paramedic services, HAZMAT, maritime firefighting, structural fire suppression, wildlife suppressions, and others
  • Staffing levels including part-time, reserve, and relief firefighters
  • Fire-related civilian fatalities and injuries
  • Fatalities and injuries for line-of-duty members
  • Operating budget
  • Percentage of budget for personnel costs
  • Details on rainy day funds, reserves, and emergency funds
  • Vehicle inventory
  • Call volume

You may need an Environmental and Historic Preservation (EHP) review before installing an LED sign in front of your fire department, and if required, you will not be able to receive the funds until the review is complete. You must also make sure that you have a written procurement policy that meets Federal Procurement Standards.

What to Expect If You Receive the Grant

If you win the grant, the program notifies you, and you need to make sure that you meet any final criteria before the funds are dispatched. With some SAFER grants, your fire department must provide matching amounts, but you may be able to apply for a waiver. Once the funds are dispersed, you may use them as outlined in your grant application.

Ready for a New Fire Department Sign? Quality LED signage can help you improve communication with your community, recruit new volunteer firefighters, and ultimately fight more fires and save more lives. To talk more about the benefits of a new fire department sign or how to use SAFER grant awards, contact us today.

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