Coffee break Bulletin

After a disaster: recovery assistance for fire departments

Posted: Feb. 19, 2019

How fire and EMS departments can apply for public assistance from FEMA if a presidentially declared disaster damages a facility.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Public Assistance grant program helps emergency service organizations with funding to repair and rebuild facilities after a disaster.

The days following a presidentially declared disaster can be overwhelming for those left to pick up the pieces of their lives. Disaster survivors who need information on grant programs for homeowners and renters can apply for assistance from FEMA. But what about public facilities, like your fire or Emergency Medical Services (EMS) department, that are damaged by a disaster?

Good news: FEMA is also there for your emergency services department to help you repair or rebuild your facility.

How can FEMA help?

If your private, non-profit or government organization owns or operates a facility that provides a critical service — emergency or medical — it may receive FEMA Public Assistance funding for repair, replacement or restoration of disaster-damaged facilities, equipment and apparatus.

In addition, your organization may receive funding for event-related emergency services, such as:

  • Debris removal (tree limbs, branches, stumps or trees that are still in place but damaged to the extent they pose an immediate threat).
  • Emergency protective measures (pre-positioning equipment, use of temporary generators, and security, such as flares and barricades or trucks blocking roadways).
  • Time (career departments) and equipment for services such as pumping out flooded basements and swift water rescue.
  • Eligible costs associated with mutual aid.

In most situations, your headquarters, emergency operations center, dispatch center and other response systems will have the documentation needed to support requests for reimbursement costs.

The Public Assistance program also encourages protection of these damaged facilities from future events by providing funding for hazard mitigation projects during the recovery process.

How much will FEMA pay?

FEMA’s share of assistance is not less than 75 percent of the eligible cost. The recipient (usually your state) determines how the nonfederal share (up to 25 percent) is split with a sub recipient (your organization). Volunteer work and donated equipment, supplies and resources may be used to offset the nonfederal share of eligible costs.

Action step: Prepare now to help your department recover from a disaster

Learn more about eligibility, guidelines and the application process for Public Assistance from FEMA.

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