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  6. Responder News: Smart Purchasing for First Responders

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In an effort to keep DHS.gov current, the archive contains outdated information that may not reflect current policy or programs.

Responder News: Smart Purchasing for First Responders

Release Date: August 7, 2015

In this current economic climate, where state and local government budgets are strained, expectations and demands on emergency response agencies and organizations continue to grow. Amidst the threat of budget cuts, the nation’s first responders increasingly rely on alternative solutions and grant funding to address their needs.

Fire truck equipment To acquire some essential equipment, the Warwick (Rhode Island) Fire Department received federal funding from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG). This grant allowed them to purchase an aerial ladder truck, self-contained breathing apparatus and defibrillator AEDs. Watch a video testimony from Warwick firefighters on how the grant funds helped enhance their firefighting operations.

Through the Houston-Galveston (Texas) Area Council (H-GAC), government units and non-profit associations performing governmental functions can utilize the H-GAC Disaster/Emergency Letter of Intent (DLOI) to procure necessary items and facilitate recovery from a major disaster. The DLOI may be used for 180 days and grants the end user access to the entire list of contracts available through the HGACBuy, a cooperative purchasing program operated under the local government authority of the H-GAC. Other government agencies can also benefit from the H-GAC program by entering an Interlocal agreement. Review the H-GAC Interlocal Contract webpage to learn more.

Additionally, DHS established the System Assessment and Validation for Emergency Responders (SAVER) Program to assist emergency responders in making procurement decisions. The SAVER Program, located within the DHS Science and Technology Directorate, conducts objective assessments and validations on commercial equipment and systems. SAVER provides the results from the assessments to the emergency responder community. This information can help departments make more informed purchasing decisions on technologies that impact day-to-day operations. SAVER contains more than 900 assessments of equipment that falls within 21 categories, such as search and rescue, information technology and surveillance. To learn more about the SAVER Program or email SAVER at NUSTL@hq.dhs.gov.

There are several federal grants first responder agencies can apply for to either hire and train staff and/or purchase new technologies and equipment. Below is a list of government entities and the types of funding opportunities and resources they offer.

DHS FEMA (Funding Opportunities):

  • Emergency Management Performance Grant Program – supports the building, sustainment and delivery of core capabilities essential to achieving the National Preparedness Goal of a secure and resilient Nation.
  • Tribal Homeland Security Grant Program – supports the building, sustainment and delivery of core capabilities to enable tribes to strengthen their capacity to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to and recover from potential terrorist attacks and other hazards.

Department of Health and Human Services (Resources):

  • Public Health Emergency Preparedness – assists federal, state, local, tribal and territorial emergency planners in all-hazards public health emergency preparedness and response.
  • Hospital Preparedness Program [http://www.phe.gov/Preparedness/planning/hpp/Pages/funding.aspx | Link no longer valid] – provides leadership and funding through grants and cooperative agreements to states, territories and eligible municipalities to improve surge capacity and enhance community and hospital preparedness for public health emergencies.

Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs Bureau of Justice Assistance (Resources and Funding Opportunities):

  • Body-Worn Cameras Toolkit – provides answers to frequently asked questions, resources and other information, including research, policy, technology and privacy regarding implementing a body-worn camera program. For more information, email AskBWC@usdoj.gov.
  • Technology Innovation for Public Safety – provides grant assistance to state, local and tribal jurisdictions to enhance their information sharing capacity through the use of innovative technological solutions.
This is just a snapshot of the resources and federal grant opportunities first responders can take advantage of to enhance their day-to-day operations and mission effectiveness.

A comprehensive list of federal grant funding opportunities, searchable by keyword or relevant criteria, can be found at Grants.gov. On the website, the first responder community can also learn more about the federal grants lifecycle, policies on grants management and profiles on grant-making agencies.
Last Updated: 02/29/2024
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