Fire grants under fire

David Mulhausen, Ph.D. recently published this report criticizing the effectiveness of fire grants administered by FEMA for the conservative think-tank The Heritage Foundation:

Ineffective Fire Grants

Fire grants, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), encompass a number of grant programs. The Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program subsidizes the routine activities of local fire departments and emergency management organizations. The Fire Prevention and Safety (FP&S) grants fund projects to improve the safety of firefighters and the public from fire and related hazards. Created in late 2003, the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants are intended to increase staffing levels by funding the salaries of career firefighters and paying for recruitment activities for volunteer fire departments.

The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis evaluated the effectiveness of fire grants by matching fire grant award data to the National Fire Incident Reporting System, an incident-based database of fire-related emergencies reported by fire departments. Using panel data from 1999 to 2006 for more than 10,000 fire departments, the evaluation assessed the impact of fire grants on four different measures of fire casualties: (1) firefighter deaths, (2) firefighter injuries, (3) civilian deaths, and (4) civilian injuries.

The Heritage evaluation compared fire departments that received grants to fire departments that did not receive grants. In addition, the evaluation compared the impact of the grants before and after grant-funded fire departments received federal assistance.

Fire grants appear to be ineffective at reducing fire casualties. AFG, SAFER, and FP&S grants failed to reduce firefighter deaths, firefighter injuries, civilian deaths, or civilian injuries. Without receiving fire grants, comparison fire departments were just as successful at preventing fire casualties as grant-funded fire departments.

You can read the full report here.

What do you think of the report? Do you think their evaluation will affect lawmaker’s decision to renew grants like the AFG and FP&S?

2 thoughts on “Fire grants under fire”

  1. this is a lame study. Most departments (that i have seen) get grants for things they need, like a new pumper or new turnout gear because they cannot afford it which add safety to firefighters responding and operating during an emergency. unfortunately there is no way to document what would have happened to the departments that recieved a grant had they not been given.

  2. it took a lot of work from Congressman Pascrell to get the grants for the Fire Dept. We even extented them for EMS maybe the Heritage Foundation should gear up and come on the fire ground and put blood in the mud with us before they talk

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