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Notice

Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program; Fire Prevention and Safety Grants

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AGENCY:

Federal Emergency Management Agency, DHS.

ACTION:

Notice.

SUMMARY:

This Notice provides guidelines that describe the application process for Fire Prevention and Safety (FP&S) Grant Program grants and the criteria the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will use to award these grants for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. It explains the differences, if any, between these guidelines and those recommended by representatives of the Nation's fire service leadership during the annual Criteria Development meeting, which was held December 11, 2019. The application period for the FY 2020 FP&S Grant Program was January 25, 2021, through February 26, 2021, and was announced on the Assistance to Firefighters Grants Program (AFGP) website at: https://www.fema.gov/​grants/​preparedness/​firefighters, www.grants.gov, and the U.S. Fire Administration website at www.usfa.fema.gov.

DATES:

Grant applications for the FP&S Grant Program were accepted electronically at https://go.fema.gov from January 25, 2021, at 8:00 a.m. ET through February 26, 2021, at 5:00 p.m. ET.

ADDRESSES:

Assistance to Firefighters Grants Program Branch, DHS/FEMA, 400 C Street SW 3N, Washington, DC 20472-3635.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Catherine Patterson, Chief, Assistance to Firefighters Grants Program Branch, (866) 274-0960.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The purpose of the FP&S Grant Program is to enhance the safety of the public and firefighters by assisting fire prevention programs and supporting firefighter health and safety research and development. The FEMA Grant Programs Directorate administers the FP&S Grant Program as part of the AFGP.

The FP&S Grant Program's authorizing statute requires that FEMA publish the guidelines that describe the application process and the criteria for grant awards in the Federal Register each year. Specific information about the submission of grant applications can be found in the FY 2020 FP&S Grant Program Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), which is available for download at https://www.fema.gov/​grants/​preparedness/​firefighters.

Congressional Appropriations

Congress appropriated $355 million for AFG Program in FY 2020 pursuant to the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2020, Public Law 116-93. From this amount, $35.5 million will be made available for FP&S Grant Program awards, pursuant to 15 U.S.C. 2229(h)(5), which states that not less than 10 percent of available grant funds each year are awarded under the FP&S Grant Program. Funds appropriated for all FY 2020 AFG Program awards, pursuant to Public Law 116-93, will be available for obligation and award until Sept. 30, 2021.

FEMA anticipates that it will receive approximately 670 applications and may award approximately 100 FP&S Grant Program grants.

Background of the FP&S Grant Program

The purpose of the FP&S Grant Program is to enhance the safety of the public and firefighters by assisting fire prevention programs and supporting firefighter health and safety research and development. FP&S Grant Program grants are offered to support projects in two activities:

1. FP&S Activity: Activities designed to reach high-risk target groups and mitigate the incidence of death, injuries, and property damage caused by fire and fire-related hazards.

2. Research and Development (R&D) Activity: Projects aimed at improving firefighter safety, health, or wellness through research and development that reduce firefighter fatalities and injuries.

FEMA awards grants on a competitive basis to applicants that best address the FP&S Grant Program's priorities and provide the most compelling justification. A panel of reviewers evaluates each project in accordance with the evaluation criteria. The highest rated projects are recommended for funding.

Award Criteria

All applications for grants will be prepared and submitted through the FEMA Grants Outcomes (FEMA GO) system (https://go.fema.gov).

Applications submitted under the FP&S Activity will be reviewed by a panel of fire service members using the following criteria:

  • Financial Need
  • Commitment to Mitigation
  • Vulnerability Statement
  • Project Description
  • Implementation Plan
  • Evaluation Plan
  • Cost vs. Benefit

Applications submitted under the R&D Activity will be reviewed first by a panel of fire service members to identify those applications most relevant to the fire service. The following evaluation criteria will be used for this review:

  • Purpose
  • Potential Impact
  • Implementation by the Fire Service
  • Barriers
  • Partners

The applications that are determined most likely to enable improvement in firefighter safety, health, or wellness will be deemed to be in the “competitive range” and forwarded to the second level of application review, which is the science panel review process. This panel will be composed of scientists and technology experts who have expertise pertaining to the subject matter of the proposal.

The Science Panel for the R&D Activity will review the application and evaluate it using the following criteria:

  • Project Goals, Objectives, and Specific AimsStart Printed Page 20510
  • Literature Review
  • Project Methods
  • Project Measurements
  • Project Analysis
  • Dissemination and Implementation
  • Cost vs. Benefit (additional consideration)
  • Financial Need (additional consideration)
  • Mentoring (additional consideration for Early Career Investigator Projects only)

Eligible Applicants

Under the FY 2020 FP&S Grant Program, eligible applicants are limited to those entities described below within each activity:

1. FP&S Activity: Eligible applicants for this activity included fire departments and national, regional, state, local, tribal, and nonprofit interest organizations that are recognized for their experience and expertise in fire prevention and safety programs and activities. Both private and public non-profit organizations are eligible to apply for funding in this activity. For-profit organizations, Federal agencies, and individuals are not eligible to receive an FP&S Grant Program award under the FP&S Activity.

2. R&D Activity: Eligible applicants for this activity include national, state, local, federally-recognized tribal, and nonprofit organizations, such as academic (e.g., universities), public health, occupational health, and injury prevention institutions. Both private and public non-profit organizations are eligible to apply for funding in this activity.

The aforementioned entities are encouraged to apply, especially those that are recognized for their experience and expertise in firefighter safety, health, and wellness research and development activities. Fire departments are not eligible to apply for funding in the R&D Activity. Additionally, for-profit organizations, Federal agencies, and individuals are not eligible to receive a grant award under the R&D Activity.

Funding Limitations

Awards are limited to a maximum Federal share of $1.5 million regardless of applicant type, in accordance with 15 U.S.C. 2229(d)(2). R&D Activity applicants that applied under the Early Career Investigator category are limited to a maximum Federal share of $75,000 per project year.

Cost Sharing

Grant recipients must share in the costs of the projects funded under this grant program as required by 15 U.S.C. 2229(k)(1) and in accordance with 2 CFR 200.101(b)(1), but they are not required to have the cost share at the time of application nor are they required to have it at the time of award. However, before a grant is awarded, FEMA may contact potential awardees to determine whether the grant recipient has the funding in hand or whether the grant recipient has a viable plan to obtain the funding necessary to fulfill the cost-share requirement.

In general, an eligible applicant seeking an FP&S Grant Program grant to carry out an activity shall agree to make available non-Federal funds to carry out such activity in an amount equal to, and not less than, five percent of the grant awarded. Cash match and in-kind matches are both allowable in the FP&S Grant Program. Cash (hard) matches include non-Federal cash spent for project-related costs. In-kind (soft) matches include, but are not limited to, the valuation of in-kind services; complementary activities; and provision of staff, facilities, services, material, or equipment. In-kind is the value of something received or provided that does not have a cost associated with it. For example, where an in-kind match (other than cash payments) is permitted, then the value of donated services could be used to comply with the match requirement. Also, third party in-kind contributions may count toward satisfying match requirements provided the grant recipient receiving the contributions expends them as allowable costs in compliance with provisions listed above.

Grant recipients under this program must also agree to a maintenance of effort requirement per 15 U.S.C. 2229(k)(3) (referred to as a “maintenance of expenditure” requirement in that statute). Per this requirement, a grant recipient shall agree to maintain during the term of the grant, the grant recipient's aggregate expenditures relating to the activities allowable under the FP&S Grant Program NOFO at not less than 80 percent of the average amount of such expenditures in the two fiscal years preceding the fiscal year in which the grant amounts are received.

In cases of demonstrated economic hardship and upon the request of the grant recipient, the FEMA Administrator may waive or reduce a certain grant recipient's cost share or maintenance of expenditure requirements, or both (15 U.S.C. 2229(k)(4)(A)). As required by 15 U.S.C. 2229(k)(4)(B), the Administrator established guidelines for determining what constitutes economic hardship and published these guidelines at FEMA's website: https://www.fema.gov/​media-library-data/​1519836401291-5ab3e7fc3eaea15bea8a68b5638e892d/​Eco_​Hardship_​Waiver_​FPS_​SAFER_​AFG_​IB_​FINAL.pdf. Per 15 U.S.C. 2229(k)(4)(C), FP&S Grant Program nonprofit organization grant recipients that are not fire departments or emergency medical services organizations are not eligible to receive a waiver of their cost-share for economic hardship requirements.

System for Award Management (SAM)

Per 2 CFR 25.200, all grant applicants and recipients are required to register at https://SAM.gov, which is available free of charge. FEMA requires active SAM registration at the time of application in FEMA GO, and will not process any awards, consider any payment or amendment requests, or consider any amendment unless the applicant or grant recipient has complied with the requirements to provide a valid Dun & Bradstreet (DUNS) database number and an active SAM registration with current information. The banking information, employer identification number (EIN), organization/entity name, address, and DUNS number provided in SAM will be automatically transferred to the application after the entity registers in FEMA GO at https://go.fema.gov.

Application Process

Applicants (identified by the Unique Entity Identifier) may apply for funding under both eligible activities (FP&S and R&D) but must complete separate applications for each eligible activity. Each application may include up to three projects under that activity. Applicants are limited to one application per activity, per application period. Any applicant that submits more than one application per eligible activity may have all applications deemed ineligible.

Under the FP&S Activity, applicants could apply under the following categories:

  • Community Risk Reduction
  • Wildfire Risk Reduction
  • Fire & Arson Investigation
  • Code Enforcement/Awareness
  • National/State/Regional Programs and Projects

Under the R&D Activity, applicants could apply under the following categories:

  • Clinical Studies
  • Technology and Product Development
  • Database System Development
  • Dissemination and Implementation Research
  • Preliminary Studies
  • Early Career Investigator
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Prior to the start of the FY 2020 FP&S Grant Program application period, FEMA provided applicants with technical assistance tools available at the AFGP website https://www.fema.gov/​grants/​preparedness/​firefighters and other online information to help them prepare quality grant applications. AFGP also staffs a Helpdesk throughout the application period to assist applicants with navigation through the automated application as well as assistance with related questions. The AFGP Helpdesk can be reached year-round through a toll-free telephone number (866-274-0960) or email firegrants@fema.dhs.gov.

Applicants could access the application electronically at https://go.fema.gov. The application was also accessible from the Grants.gov website: http://www.grants.gov. New applicants were required to register and establish a username and password electronically at https://go.fema.gov for secure access to their application. The FEMA GO Helpdesk was available to assist applicants with technical issues and could be reached at (877) 585-3242 or by email at femago@fema.dhs.gov. The FEMA GO Helpdesk is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. ET.

In completing an application under the FY 2020 FP&S Grant Program, applicants must provide relevant information on their organization's characteristics and existing capabilities. Those applicants are asked to answer questions about their grant request that reflect the funding priorities, described below. In addition, applicants are required to complete narratives for each project requested.

The following are the funding priorities for each category under the FP&S Activity:

  • Community Risk Reduction—Under the Community Risk Reduction category there are three funding priorities:

○ Priority will be given to programs that target a specific high-risk population to conduct both door-to-door smoke alarm installations and provide home safety inspections, as part of a comprehensive home fire safety campaign.

○ Priority will be given to programs that include sprinkler awareness that affect the entire community, such as educating the public about sprinklers, promoting sprinklers, and demonstrating working models of sprinklers.

○ Priority will be given to programs to conduct community-appropriate comprehensive risk assessments and risk reduction planning.

  • Wildfire Risk Reduction—These are education and awareness programs that protect lives, property, and natural resources from fire in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) (not forestry), including Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPP) or programs supporting fire adapted community initiatives.
  • Code Enforcement/Awareness—These are projects that focus on first time or reinstatement of code adoption and code enforcement, including WUI codes for communities with a WUI-wildfire risk.
  • Fire & Arson Investigation—These are projects that aim to aggressively investigate every fire.
  • National/State/Regional Programs and Projects—These are projects that focus on residential fire issues and/or firefighter safety and wellness.

Under the R&D Activity, in order to identify and address the most important elements of firefighter safety, FEMA looked to the fire service for its input and recommendations. In June 2005, the National Fallen Firefighters' Foundation (NFFF) hosted a working group to facilitate the development of an agenda for the Nation's fire service, and in particular for firefighter safety. In November 2015, the NFFF hosted its third working group to update the agenda with current priorities. A copy of the research agenda is available on the NFFF website at http://www.everyonegoeshome.com/​resources/​research-symposium-reports/​.

All proposed projects, regardless of whether they have been identified by the working group, will be evaluated on their relevance to firefighter health and safety, and scientific rigor.

The electronic application process permits the applicant to enter and save the application data. The system does not permit the submission of incomplete applications. Except for the narrative textboxes, the application uses a “point-and-click” selection process or requires the entry of data (e.g., name and address). Applicants are encouraged to read the FP&S Grant Program NOFO for more details.

Criteria Development Process

Each year, FEMA convenes a panel of fire service professionals to develop the funding priorities and other implementation criteria for the FP&S Grant Program. The Criteria Development Panel is composed of representatives from nine major fire service organizations that are charged with making recommendations to FEMA regarding the creation of new funding priorities, the modification of existing funding priorities, and the development of criteria for awarding grants. The nine major fire service organizations represented on the panel:

  • Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI)
  • International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI)
  • International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)
  • International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF)
  • International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI)
  • National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM)
  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
  • National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC)
  • North American Fire Training Directors (NAFTD)

The FY 2020 Criteria Development Panel meeting occurred Dec. 11, 2019. The content of the FY 2020 FP&S Grant Program NOFO reflects the implementation of the Criteria Development Panel's recommendations with respect to the priorities, direction, and criteria for awards. All of the funding priorities for the FY 2020 FP&S Grant Program are designed to address the following:

  • First responder safety
  • Enhancing national capabilities
  • Risk
  • Interoperability

Changes for FY 2020

The following changes were made between the FY 2019 and the FY 2020 FP&S Grant Program NOFO:

  • Under section E—Application Review Information:

○ Fire Department applicants that can demonstrate their commitment and proactive posture to reducing fire risk will receive higher consideration.

  • Under sections D—Application and Submission Information, E—Application Review Information, F—Federal Award Administration Information, G—DHS Awarding Agency Contact and Resource Information, and H—Additional Information:

○ Various grants management changes due to recent OMB revisions to 2 CFR, particularly regarding SAM registration, performance measures, procurement, closeout, and termination.

  • Under section E—Application Review Information:

○ New Research Terms and Conditions added.

  • Under Supporting Definitions:

○ Definitions added for Authority Having Jurisdiction, Career Fire Department, Combination Fire Department, Human Subject, Interest Organizations, Primary First Due, Start Printed Page 20512Research, and Volunteer Fire Department.

  • Under National/State/Regional Programs and Projects:

○ Added guidance regarding human subjects.

  • Under Regional Projects:

○ Added guidance regarding regional projects.

  • Under Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation (EHP):

○ Added updated process for EHP.

  • Under Ineligible Costs and Items for FP&S Activity:

○ Intruder alerting systems and deployment notification systems were added as ineligible.

  • Under Award Administration Information (Appendix C):

○ Added updated process for Economic Hardship Waiver.

○ Added list of supporting documentation for advance and reimbursement payment requests.

Application Review Process and Considerations

The FP&S Grant Program's authorizing statute requires that each year FEMA publish in the Federal Register a description of the grant application process and the criteria for grant awards. This information is provided below.

FEMA will review and evaluate all FP&S Grant Program applications submitted using the funding priorities and evaluation criteria described in this document, which are based on recommendations from the Criteria Development Panel.

Peer Review Process

Peer Review Panel Process—FP&S Activity

All FP&S Activity applications will be evaluated through a peer review process. A panel of peer reviewers is composed of fire service representatives recommended by the Criteria Development Panel. These reviewers will assess each application's merits with respect to the detail provided in the Narrative Statement on the activity, including the evaluation elements listed in the Evaluation Criteria identified below. The panel will independently score each project within the application, discuss the merits and/or shortcomings of the application, and document the findings. A consensus is not required.

Peer Review Panel Process—R&D Activity

R&D Activity applications will go through a two-phase review process. First, all applications will be reviewed by a panel of fire service experts to assess the need for the research results and the likelihood that the results would be implemented by the fire service in the United States. Applications that are deemed likely to be implemented to enable improvement in firefighter safety, health, or wellness will be deemed to be in the “competitive range” and will be forwarded to the second level of project review, which is the science review panel process. This panel will be composed of scientists and technology experts who have expertise pertaining to the subject matter of the proposal.

Science panel reviewers will independently score applications in the competitive range and, if necessary, discuss the merits or shortcomings of the project in order to reconcile any major discrepancies identified by the reviewers. A consensus is not required.

Technical Evaluation Process

The highest ranked projects from both Activities will be deemed in the fundable range. Applications that are in the fundable range will undergo a Technical Review by the FEMA Program Office prior to being recommended for award. The FEMA Program Office will assess the request with respect to costs, quantities, feasibility, eligibility, and recipient responsibility prior to recommending any application for award. Additionally, FEMA will review whether the project duplicates other federally funded research or prevention activities in order to avoid duplication.

Once the review process is complete, each project's score will be determined and a final ranking of project applications will be created. FEMA will award grants based on this final ranking. Award announcements will be made on a rolling basis until all available grant funds have been committed. Awards will not be made in any specified order. FEMA will notify unsuccessful applicants as soon as it is feasible.

Evaluation Criteria for Projects—FP&S Activity

Funding decisions will be informed by an assessment of how well the application addressed the criteria and considerations listed below. Applications will be reviewed by the peer reviewers using weighted evaluation criteria to score the project. These scores will impact the ranking of a project for funding.

The relative weights of the evaluation criteria in the determination of the grant award is listed below.

  • Financial Need (Fire Departments-10 percent, Interest Organizations-0 percent): Applicants must have provided details on the need for financial assistance to carry out the proposed project(s). Included in the description might be other unsuccessful attempts to acquire financial assistance or specific details of the applicant's operational budget.
  • Commitment to Mitigation (Fire Departments only-5 percent): Fire Department applicants that can demonstrate their commitment and proactive posture to reducing fire risk will receive higher consideration. Applicants must explain their code adoption and enforcement (to include WUI and commercial/residential sprinkler code adoption and enforcement) and mitigation strategies (including whether or not the jurisdiction has a FEMA-approved mitigation strategy). Applicants can also demonstrate their commitment to reducing fire risk by applying to implement fire mitigation strategies (code adoption and enforcement) via the application.
  • Vulnerability Statement (Fire Departments-15 percent, Interest Organizations-25 percent): The assessment of fire risk is essential in the development of an effective project goal, as well as meeting FEMA's goal to reduce risk by conducting a risk assessment as a basis for action. Vulnerability is a “weak link” demonstrating high risk behavior, living conditions or any type of high risk situation. The Vulnerability Statement should include a description of the steps taken to determine the vulnerability and identify the target audience. The methodology for determination of vulnerability (e.g., how the vulnerability was found) should be discussed in-depth in the application's Narrative Statement.

○ The specific vulnerability that will be addressed with the proposed project can be established through a formal or informal risk assessment. FEMA encourages the use of local statistics, rather than national statistics, when discussing the vulnerability.

○ In a clear, to-the-point statement, the applicant should summarize the vulnerability the project will address, including who is at risk, what the risks are, where the risks are, and how the risks can be prevented, reduced, or mitigated.

○ For the purpose of the FY 2020 FP&S Grant Program NOFO, formal risk assessments consist of the use of software programs or recognized expert analysis that assess risk trends.

○ Informal risk assessments could include an in-house review of available data (e.g., National Fire Incident Reporting System) to determine fire Start Printed Page 20513loss, burn injuries, or loss of life over a period of time and the factors that are the cause and origin for each occurrence, including a lack of adoption and enforcement of certain codes.

  • Project Description (Fire Departments-20 percent, Interest Organizations-25 percent): Applicants must have described in detail not only the project components but also how the proposed project addresses the identified capability gap, due to financial need and/or the vulnerabilities identified in the vulnerability statement. The following information should be included:

○ Project components.

○ Review of any existing programs or models that have been successful.

○ Detailed description of how the proposed project components fill the identified capability gap.

○ If working with Fire Service Partners/Organizations, identify each partner/organization and the role(s) they will fill in the successful completion of the proposed project.

  • Implementation Plan (Fire Departments-25 percent, Interest Organizations-30 percent): Projects should provide details on the implementation plan, discussing the proposed project's goals and objectives. The following information should be included to support the implementation plan:

○ Goals and objectives.

○ Details regarding the methods and specific steps that will be used to achieve the goals and objectives.

○ Timelines outlining the chronological project steps (this is critical for determining the likeliness of the project's completion within the period of performance).

○ Where applicable, examples of marketing efforts to promote the project, who will deliver the project (e.g., effective partnerships), and the manner in which materials or deliverables will be distributed.

○ Requests for props (e.g., tools used in educational or awareness demonstrations), including specific goals, measurable results, and details on the frequency for which the prop will be utilized as part of the implementation plan. Applicants should include information describing the efforts that will be used to reach the high risk audience and/or the number of people reached through the proposed project (examples of props include safety trailers, puppets, or costumes).

  • Evaluation Plan (Fire Departments-15 percent, Interest Organizations-15 percent): Projects should include a plan for evaluation of effectiveness and identify measurable goals. Applicants seeking to carry out awareness and educational projects, for example, should identify how they intend to determine that there has been an increase in knowledge about fire hazards, or measure a change in the safety behaviors of the audience. Applicants should demonstrate how they will measure risk at the outset of the project in comparison to how much the risk decreased after the project is finished. There are various ways to measure the knowledge gained about fire hazards, including the use of surveys, pre- and post-tests, or documented observations. Applicants are encouraged to attend training on evaluation methods, such as the National Fire Academy's “Demonstrating Your Fire Prevention Program's Worth.” In addition to a detailed evaluation plan as described above, if awarded, grant recipients are required to report on specific performance metrics through performance reports and at closeout.
  • Cost vs. Benefit (Fire Departments-10 percent, Interest Organizations-5 percent): Projects will be evaluated and scored by the Peer Review panelists based on how well the applicant addresses the fire prevention needs of the department or organization in an economic and efficient manner. The applicant should show how it will maximize the level of funding that goes directly into the delivery of the project. The costs associated with the project also must be reasonable for the target audience that will be reached, and a description should be included of how the anticipated project benefit(s) (quantified if possible) outweighs the cost(s) of the requested item(s). The application should provide justification for all costs included in the project in order to assist the Technical Evaluation Panel with their review.

Meeting the needs of people with disabilities (additional consideration): Applicants in the Community Risk Reduction category will receive additional consideration if, as part of their comprehensive smoke alarm installation and education program, they address the needs of people with disabilities (e.g., deaf/hard-of-hearing) in their community.

Experience and Expertise (additional consideration): Applicants that demonstrate their experience and ability to conduct fire prevention and safety activities, and to execute the proposed or similar project(s), will receive additional consideration.

Evaluation Criteria—R&D Activity

Funding decisions will be informed by an assessment of how well the application addresses the criteria and considerations listed below. All applications will be reviewed by a fire service expert panel using weighted evaluation criteria, and those projects deemed to be in the “competitive range” will then be reviewed by a science panel using weighted evaluation criteria to score the project. Science panel evaluations will impact the ranking of the project for funding.

Fire Service Panel Evaluation Criteria

  • Purpose (25 percent): Applicants should clearly identify the benefits of the proposed research project to improve firefighter safety, health, or wellness, and identify specific gaps in knowledge that will be addressed.
  • Implementation by Fire Service (25 percent): Applicants should discuss how the outcomes/products of this research, if successful, are likely to be widely/nationally adopted and accepted by the fire service as changes that enhance firefighter safety, health, or wellness.
  • Potential Impact (15 percent): Applicants should discuss the potential impact of the research outcome/product on firefighter safety by quantifying the possible reduction in the number of fatal or non-fatal injuries, or on the projected wellness by significantly improving the overall health of firefighters.
  • Barriers (15 percent): The applicant should identify and discuss potential fire service and other barriers to successfully complete the study on schedule, including contingencies and strategies to deal with barriers if they materialize. This may include barriers that could inhibit the proposed fire service participation in the study or the adoption of successful results by the fire service when the project is completed, or project components most likely to cause delay in successful completion.
  • Partners (20 percent): Applicants should recognize that participation of the fire service as a partner in the research, from development to dissemination, is regarded as an essential part of all projects. Applicants should describe the fire service partners and contractors that will support the project to accomplish the objectives of the study. The specific roles and contributions of the partners should be described. Partnerships should be formed with national fire-related organizations, in addition to local and regional fire departments. Letters of support and letters of commitment to actively participate in the project should be included in the appendix of the application. Generally, participants of a diverse population, including both Start Printed Page 20514career and volunteer firefighters, are expected to facilitate acceptance of results nationally. In cases where this is not practical, due to the nature of the study or other limitations, these circumstances should be clearly explained.

Science Panel Evaluation Criteria

  • Project Goals, Objectives, and Specific Aims (15 percent): Applicants should address how the purpose, goals, objectives, and aims of the proposal will lead to results that will improve firefighter safety, health, or wellness. Applicants should describe the specific goals and objectives for each year of the project.
  • Literature Review (10 percent): Applicants should provide a literature review that is relevant to the project's goals, objectives, and specific aims. The citations should be placed in the text of the Narrative Statement, with references listed at the end of the Narrative Statement (and not in the Appendix) of the application. The review should be in sufficient depth to make it clear that the proposed project is necessary, adds to an existing body of knowledge, is different from current and previous studies, and offers a unique contribution.
  • Project Methods (20 percent): Applicants should provide a description of how the project will be carried out, including demonstration of the overall scientific and technical rigor and merit of the project. This includes the operations to accomplish the purpose, goals and objectives, and the specific aims of the project. Plans to recruit and retain human subjects, where applicable, should be described. Where human subjects are involved in the project, the applicant should describe plans for submission to the Institutional Review Board (for further guidance and requirements, see the FY 2020 FP&S Grant Program NOFO).
  • Project Measurements (20 percent): Applicants should provide evidence of the technical rigor and merit of the project, such as data pertaining to validity, reliability, and sensitivity (where established) of the facilities, equipment, instruments, standards, and procedures that will be used to carry out the research. The applicant should discuss the data to be collected to evaluate the performance methods, technologies, and products proposed to enhance firefighter safety, health, or wellness. The applicant should demonstrate that the measurement methods and equipment selected for use are appropriate and sufficient to successfully deliver the proposed project objectives.
  • Project Analysis (20 percent): The applicant should indicate the planned approach for analysis of the data obtained from measurements, questionnaires, or computations. The applicant should specify within the plan what will be analyzed, the statistical methods that will be used, the sequence of steps, and interactions as appropriate. It should be clear that the principal investigator and research team have the expertise to perform the planned analysis and defend the results in a peer review process.
  • Dissemination and Implementation (15 percent): Applicants should indicate dissemination plans for scientific audiences (such as plans for submissions to specific peer review publications) and for firefighter audiences (such as websites, magazines, and conferences). Also, assuming positive results, the applicant should indicate future steps that would support dissemination and implementation throughout the fire service, where applicable. These steps are likely to be beyond the current study, so those features of the research activity that will facilitate future dissemination and implementation should be discussed. All applicants should specify how the results of the project, if successful, might be disseminated and implemented in the fire service to improve firefighter safety, health, or wellness. It is expected that successful R&D Activity Projects may give rise to future programs including FP&S Activity Projects.
  • Cost vs. Benefit (additional consideration): Cost vs. benefit in this evaluation element refers to the costs of the grant for the research and development project as it relates to the benefits that are projected for firefighters who would have improved safety, health, or wellness. Applicants should demonstrate a high benefit for the cost incurred and effective utilization of Federal funds for research activities.
  • Financial Need (additional consideration): In the Applicant Information section of the application, applicants should provide details on the need for Federal financial assistance to carry out the proposed project(s). Applicants may include a description of unsuccessful attempts to acquire financial assistance. Applicants should provide detail about the organization's operating budget, including a high-level breakdown of the budget; describe the department's inability to address financial needs without Federal assistance; and discuss other actions the department has taken to meet their staffing needs (e.g., state assistance programs, other grant programs, etc.).
  • Mentoring (additional consideration for Early Career Investigator Projects only): An important part of Early Career Investigator projects is the integration of mentoring for the principal investigator by experienced researchers in areas appropriate to the research project, including exposure to the fire service community as well as support for ongoing development of knowledge and skills. Mentoring is regarded as critical to the research skills development of early career principal investigators. As part of the application Appendix, the applicant should identify the mentor(s) who have agreed to support the applicant and the expected benefit of their interactions with the researcher. A biographical sketch and letter of support from the mentor(s) are encouraged and should be included in the Appendix materials.

Other Selection Information

Awards will be made using the results of peer-reviewed applications as the primary basis for decisions, regardless of activity. However, there are some exceptions to strictly using the peer review results. The applicant's prior AFG Program, Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Program, and FP&S Grant Program grant management performance will also be taken into consideration when making recommendations for award. All final funding determinations will be made by the FEMA Administrator, or the Administrator's designee.

Fire departments and other eligible applicants that have received funding under the FP&S Grant Program in previous years are eligible to apply for funding in the current year. However, FEMA may take into account an applicant's performance on prior grants when making funding decisions on current applications.

Once every application in the competitive range has been through the technical evaluation phase, the applications will be ranked according to the average score awarded by the panel.

The ranking will be summarized in a Technical Report prepared by the AFG Program Office. A Grants Management Specialist will contact the applicant to discuss and/or negotiate the content of the application and SAM.gov registration before making final award decisions.

Start Authority

Start Printed Page 20515 Authority: 15 U.S.C. 2229.

End Authority Start Signature

Robert J. Fenton Jr.,

Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2021-08089 Filed 4-19-21; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 9111-78-P