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Release No.: 02-034
Release Date: April 15, 2002

FEMA to Distribute $360 Million in Grants Beginning in Early June

WASHINGTON – The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) received a record 19,500 on-line applications from fire departments nationwide for the “Assistance to Firefighters” competitive grant program. The applications were accepted up to the April 5 deadline as part of USFA’s $360 million grant program aimed at improving operations, services and equipment for the first responder communities.

"The response to this program has been outstanding and highlights the needs of our fire service first responders across the country," FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh said. “This important program will help meet the critical needs of those men and women who put their lives on the line for their communities each and every day.”

Applying to this year’s fire grant program, members in the fire service excelled in using FEMA’s first-time ever on-line participation process. Of the more than 19,500 applications received this year, only about 50 paper applications were submitted to USFA. In addition, the total number of applications this year was almost a thousand more than the previous year. In all, the total of all applications requested more than $2.2 billion for basic firefighting needs.

USFA will hold a series of panels in April and May to review the applications and offer recommendations to FEMA on how to award the grants. The panels include nearly 300 fire service personnel from across the nation. Following the completion of the panel peer review process, FEMA will begin awarding grants in late May or early June and will continue through the fall.

“In the review process, FEMA will be sure to balance the needs of all communities, including rural, suburban, and urban departments around the country,” United States Fire Administrator R. David Paulison said. “In addition, the distribution of funds will also be weighted to include departments with volunteers, career staff or a combination of volunteer and career staff."

USFA is still reviewing applications, but this year’s preliminary data show a broad spectrum of fire departments and needs that include:

  • Volunteer/Combination fire departments: 17, 786 applications requesting more than $1.9 billion.
  • Career fire departments: 1,733 applications requesting more than $287 million.

Under the “Assistance to Firefighter” competitive grant program, applications are divided into four program areas. The breakdown below indicates the breakdown of the grant money being requested:

  • Fire Operations and Firefighter Safety: $882,539,097 representing 58 percent of the applications.
  • Fire Fighting Vehicles: $1.26 billion representing 37 percent of the applications.
  • Emergency Medical Services: $35,174,783 representing two percent of the applications.
  • Fire Prevention Programs: $30,580,741 representing three percent of the applications.

More information on the grant program is available from the USFA Web site at, the Grant Office's toll-free information line at 866-274-0960, or e-mailing

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Last Updated: April 15, 2002