"Effective firefighters in every community are critical to America's homeland security," said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. "We want to help the fire service to move quickly to develop and acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and equipment to respond to all emergencies, large and small."
Secretary Ridge wrote to the governors of the states and territories on Monday, March 3 to provide program guidelines and offer instructions for filing the grant applications. The on-line application form will be available on the web at www.usfa.fema.gov on Monday, March 10 and fire departments will have until April 11, 2003 at 5 pm, to complete and submit their applications. Once the application period is closed, a peer review process will be started in April, and run through May. The distribution of the funds to successful applicants will begin no later than July 2003.
As of March 1, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) became part of the Department of Homeland Security. The U.S. Fire Administration, which administers the grant program, is a component of FEMA's Preparedness Division. The Assistance to Firefighters Grants Program is one of the principal ways FEMA meets its mission to help the nation prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from all emergencies - natural or man-made.
In 2002, alone, FEMA distributed more than $334 million through 5,316 grants to help America's firefighters get better prepared, trained and equipped to effectively respond to fires and other disasters including incidents involving hazardous materials. Thanks to President Bush's leadership, funding for this program doubled from FY02 to FY03.