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COVID-19 cost recovery for fire and EMS departments

There are two ways through which your agency can obtain fiscal support: the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Public Assistance Grant Program and the Paycheck Protection Program.

FEMA Public Assistance Grant Program

A prominent way your department can obtain fiscal support is through the FEMA Public Assistance Grant Program. FEMA has implemented a streamlined project application process for COVID-19 cost recovery. This process eases the burden for organizations providing services during this crisis. Supporting documentation (see below) is still required.

How to submit an application

Download public assistance application

Complete and submit this project application online in the FEMA Public Assistance Grants Portal. FEMA will not accept paper submissions of this project application. The application is being provided to applicants and recipients in paper form here to provide guidance on what information FEMA will require from applicants if they seek reimbursement for COVID-19 related activities.

For training on how to use the grants portal and the COVID-19 streamlined project application, register for a free webinar.

Please refer to the FEMA Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide for detailed guidance on eligibility, cost reimbursement and documentation requirements.

COVID-19: FEMA Reimbursement of Costs for Emergency Medical Services

This fact sheet contains examples of 911 and EMS costs that may be reimbursed under the Public Assistance Grant Program. Refer to the FEMA public assistance application for more information.

Supporting documentation

Documenting your COVID-19 cost recovery is as easy as ...

1. Have a plan.

Incident action plan.

Emergency plan.

ICS Form 202.

ICS Form 204.

2. Tell us what you did.

Incident logs or reports.

ICS Form 214.

3. Describe what you spent and why.

Payroll records and policies.

Collective bargaining agreement.

Inventory lists.


Incident Command System forms

A submission request for public assistance must provide complete and accurate documentation of expenses and usage. This includes standardized Incident Command System (ICS) forms, Public Assistance Grant forms, verifiable receipts, personnel cost sheets and apparatus sheets (type, size, etc.). Some basic forms to use include:

Tools for tracking costs, inventory and supplies

Many fire and EMS organizations don’t take advantage of funding opportunities related to federally declared emergencies and disasters because they believe that the reporting requirements are difficult and that record keeping is time consuming.

To help, the USFA has developed simple Excel worksheets to assist you with tracking costs related to COVID-19 response and recovery. They can also help with inventory control and supply reordering. The worksheets capture common reimbursable costs as they are expended and you can customize them as needed.

Disaster Response Cost Recovery Workbook

Cost recovery worksheets | Instructions

Use these worksheets to track incidents and their combined personnel, equipment and materials costs.

PPE Burn Rate Calculator

PPE worksheets

Use these worksheets to track how quickly PPE is used at your facility.

These worksheets are not intended to take the place of cost recovery documentation processes for those departments that are well-versed in cost recovery.

Minimum documentation: completion examples

Additional documents for departments providing fire service and/or EMS

Career (100%), government-operated
Shift records (payroll), pay policy, incident logs, and receipts for purchases and rental equipment.
Career and volunteer (combination)
Shift records (payroll), pay policy, incident logs, and receipts for purchases and rental equipment.
Volunteer (100%)
Receipts for purchases and rental equipment.
Private, Not for Profit (PNP) and For Profit organizations
Applications are submitted through the jurisdiction serviced. Additional documents include supporting plans, assignments, activities and shift records (payroll), pay policy, receipts for purchases and rental equipment, and a copy of the service agreement/contract with the jurisdiction.

Learn more about the Public Assistance Grant Program

How to submit a Request for Public Assistance through the FEMA Grants Portal

Watch these videos and explore the policy guide and self-study courses to gain a better understanding of the FEMA Public Assistance Grant Program and how to apply in the correct manner for the correct expenses.

View other public assistance grants videos

Paycheck Protection Program

The Paycheck Protection Program was created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). It is a loan program administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to incentivize small businesses to keep workers on the payroll.

The SBA will forgive loans under this program if certain conditions are met. Private for-profit companies and private non-profit EMS agencies (including tribal ambulance services) are eligible. The maximum amount available to borrow under this program is 2.5 times average total monthly payroll costs, not to exceed $10 million.

You can learn more about how the Paycheck Protection Program can work for your agency in this EMS1.com article.

The U.S. Fire Administration is committed to supporting community fire and EMS during this significant event. Please visit our COVID-19 resource page for updates.