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Shake the Money Tree


So now that you’ve read all about the benefits of CO monitoring in patient management and firefighter rehab, you might be asking yourself, “How can I afford the equipment I need to establish an effective CO-monitoring program?”

Tough economic times have left their mark on all of us in one form or another, and public safety agencies are no exception. Despite recent signs of improvement, many fire and EMS departments are still struggling with unprecedented budget cuts. Now is the time to sharpen your pencil and focus on potential grants as solutions to your department’s CO monitoring needs.

AFG & Beyond
Your mother probably told you that money doesn’t grow on trees, but if you know which trees to shake, this timeless proverb may have a few exceptions—and grants are one of them.

Grants remain a relatively new concept in the public safety sector. After 9/11, assessments revealed major deficiencies in operational readiness across the public safety sector. These deficiencies would later serve as the genesis for most of the federal public safety grant programs that we know today.

By far the most recognizable of these programs is the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program. Since its inception in 2001, it has evolved from having surplus award funds to being one of today’s most competitive grant programs. The competitive nature of the AFG is further complicated by recent reductions in its funding and a record number of applicants.

Note: I don’t want to give you the idea that you should shy away from the AFG program; in fact, just the opposite. You can’t win the lottery without a ticket, and grants are essentially no different.

I would, however, challenge you to expand your grant horizons. Look beyond the obvious. When the sum total of your yearly grant efforts is measured on the outcome of one grant, it’s easy to become disheartened and throw up your hands in surrender. Instead, your department’s grant season should play out much like a football season—lots of smaller games leading up to the Super Bowl (the AFG). These smaller attempts give you an edge, honing your grant-writing skills and increasing your odds of success when it counts most.

Types of Grants
So, where can you locate other grants to fill your “season schedule?” It helps to categorize grant programs into one of three categories so that you can more easily focus your research efforts.

1. Federal grant programs: Federal grants, such as AFG and its sister programs (SAFER and Fire Prevention & Safety) are well advertised. They often have their own Web sites. For instance, you can locate everything you need to know about AFG, SAFER and Fire Prevention & Safety grants at firegrantsupport.com.

Also explore the Responder Knowledge Base, www.rkb.us, which is an outstanding source of information on products, standards, certifications, grants and other equipment-related information. For detailed information on the many homeland security grants offered by DHS/FEMA, visit www.fema.gov/government/grant/index.shtm.

2. State/local grants: Not every state offers fire and EMS grants. If you’re unsure whether your state or county has a fire or EMS grant, start with your state’s fire commission or EMS governing body. Don’t forget about local civic organizations and businesses in your area. Often, a well-written funding request to these groups will yield a positive result.

Additionally, some federal programs, such as the State Homeland Security Grant (SHSP), are administered at the state level based on predetermined priorities. You can locate your state’s DHS point of contact and subscribe to e-mail updates at www.dhs.gov/files/resources/editorial
_0306.shtm. Additional state grant information is at www.firegrantshelp.com.

3. Foundation/corporate grants: Did you know there are more than 100,000 charitable giving foundations in the U.S., many of which will fund fire and EMS projects? These foundations provide grants through philanthropic endowments and corporate charitable giving programs.

Although they may be more difficult to locate, I’ve had some success searching with Google and Yahoo. If you really want to get the scoop on foundation grants, I highly recommend the Foundation Center at www.foundationcenter.org. Access to its database requires an annual subscription, but it’s a small price to pay for the wealth of information it provides.

Following are a few additional links to fire- and EMS-specific foundation/corporate grants:

  • Fireman’s Fund Heritage Program: www.firemansfund.com/heritage/Pages/welcome.htm
  • Firehouse Subs Foundation: www.firehousesubs.com/section.cfm?id=24
  • Jim Beam Terry Farrell Fund: www.terryfarrellfund.org/rules.php

Start Now
Building a successful grant program at your department isn’t as difficult as you might think. If you’ve ever flipped through your JEMS magazine—or this supplement—and uttered to yourself, “I would love to have that piece of equipment, but we just don’t have the money,” stop making excuses and get to work. Whether you’re new to grants, or your existing program just needs a shot in the arm, I hope you will find this information useful in your grant quest. Best of luck and good hunting!

Disclosure: The author's company, Valence Group, LLC, reports consulting, employment, or other business relationships with Masimo Corporation.

This article originally appeared in an editorial supplement to the October 2010 JEMS as “Shake the Money Tree: Finding funding to support your CO monitoring goals.”


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