Fire Management Assistance Grant Program Resource Center
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Grant Eligibility

Applicants for Grants and Subgrants

After the approval of a declaration request, the State may submit an application package for a fire management assistance grant to the FEMA Regional Director. The Governor or GAR usually designates a single State agency to submit the application package to FEMA for the FMAGP grant. If the application package is approved, then the State entity that submitted it is designated as the Grantee. Generally, the Grantee is the State emergency management or forestry office.

Under a FMAGP declaration, an affected Indian Tribal government may elect to serve as Grantee, if not precluded by State law, or it may act as a subgrantee of the State. An Indian Tribal government acting as Grantee must assume all the responsibilities of a State as outlined in 44 CFR Part 204 for the purpose of administering a grant. An Indian Tribal government must have a FEMA-Tribal Agreement in place in order to serve as a Grantee.

Applicants applying for subgrants must be legally responsible for the fire fighting activities for which reimbursement is being requested. The following entities are eligible to apply through a Grantee for subgrants:

  • State agencies;
  • Local governments; and
  • Indian Tribal governments.

Entities that are not eligible to be applicants under the FMAGP are governmental entities who are not legally responsible for the fire fighting activities, privately owned entities, and volunteer firefighting organizations. However, those entities may be reimbursed through a compact, mutual aid agreement or contract with an eligible applicant for eligible costs associated with the declared fire or fire complex. The eligibility of their costs is contingent on a finding that the Incident Commander, or comparable State official, requested that entity’s resources and their activities meet all other eligibility criteria. 

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Eligible Costs

All eligible work and related costs must be associated with the incident period of a declared fire. The work performed must be:

  • The legal responsibility of the applicant whether it was performed by the applicant’s own forces or through a secondary party as described in the preceding paragraphs (Generally, an entity has legal responsibility to respond to fires within its home jurisdiction.);
  • Required as a result of the declared fire;
  • Located within the designated area; and
  • Pre-positioning costs of equipment that is used in fighting the fire even when staged outside the designated area.

Types of eligible costs include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Equipment and supplies;
  • Labor costs;
  • Travel and per diem;
  • Pre-positioning costs;
  • Emergency work;
  • Temporary repairs; and
  • Mobilization and demobilization.

FEMA does not provide reimbursement based on the US Forest Service (USFS) Incident Cost Accounting and Reporting System (ICARS) unless stipulated in a pre-existing contract for all fires, declared and non-declared, for a specified period of time. In those instances, ICARS becomes a cost the State is incurring, even if it is not representative of actual costs incurred. However, even in those instances, FEMA must review the costs for reasonableness and may determine to reduce or withhold reimbursement if such costs are determined to be unreasonable.

Grantee and subgrantee administrative costs are discussed in the Grant Administration section of this site.

Equipment and Supplies. FEMA will reimburse applicants for costs associated with equipment and supplies for declared fires. Eligible costs for equipment and supplies include:

  • Personal comfort and safety items normally provided by the State under field conditions for firefighter health and safety.
  • Replacement of firefighting supplies, tools, and materials lost or destroyed with comparable items.
  • Reimbursement for ownership and operation costs of applicant-owned equipment based on equipment rate guidelines in 44 CFR 206.228(a)(1).
  • Operation and maintenance costs of publicly owned, contracted, rented, or volunteer firefighting department equipment to the extent any of these costs are not included in applicable equipment rates.
  • Reimbursement for the use of U.S. government-owned equipment based on reasonable actual costs as billed by a Federal agency and paid by the State. Reimbursement for the use of Federal Excess Personal Property is based on the direct cost for use of equipment.
  • Repair of damaged applicant-owned equipment. The FEMA Regional Office will determine repair costs based on the lowest applicable equipment rates, which may FEMA, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, or State or local rates, depending on the piece of equipment and the formula used in calculating the rate.
  • Replacement of applicant-owned equipment that is lost or destroyed in firefighting activities with comparable equipment of the same age, capacity, and condition.
  • Purchase of supplies and equipment that are necessary to respond to the declared fire may be eligible. However, the Grantee or subgrantee may be required to compensate FEMA for the fair market value of the cost of the equipment and supplies when the items are no longer needed for fire suppression activities. FEMA Policy No. 9525.12, Disposition of Equipment, Supplies and Salvaged Materials, should be used for guidance (refer to the Policies section of this site).

Labor Costs. For declared fires, certain labor costs are considered eligible for reimbursement. Labor costs eligible for reimbursement include:

  • Overtime for permanent or reassigned State, Indian Tribal, or local governmental employees, including firefighters, police, logistical support, and other personnel involved in eligible fire suppression-related activities.
  • Seasonally employed personnel, when covered under existing budgets and used for fire suppression activities during the season of employment, are considered permanently employed for the purpose of cost eligibility.
  • Regular time and overtime for temporary and contract employees hired to perform eligible fire-related activities.
  • The increased portion of overtime costs for regular full-time employees backfilling (one level) for other regular full-time employees within the same entity who are performing eligible fire-related work.
  • Permanent employees who are funded from an external source (e.g., by a grant from a Federal agency, statutorily dedicated funds, or rate-payers) to work on specific non-disaster tasks may be paid for regular time and overtime for fire-related work. However, the FEMA Region must consult with FEMA National Office before approving payment.

Travel and Per Diem. Travel and per diem is eligible for applicants under a declared fire. Eligible travel and per diem include:

  • Travel and per diem for all State, Indian Tribal, and local governmental employees who are providing services requested by the Incident Commander and directly associated with declared fire management activities.
  • Field camps and meal costs when provided in lieu of per diem.

Pre-Positioning Costs. Pre-positioning is the temporary relocation of existing fire prevention or suppression resources from an area of low fire danger to one of higher fire danger in anticipation of increased magnitude and severity of an uncontrolled fire. States frequently pre-position Federal, out-of-State, State, and local resources during extreme fire hazards to improve initial attack capabilities.

Pre-positioning costs incurred up to a maximum of 21 days before the date of the fire declaration may be eligible under FMAGP. However, only pre-positioning costs for out-of-State, Federal, and International resources actually used on the declared fire are eligible for funding. Costs incurred to pre-position resources that remained at the staging area and were not used on the declared fire are not eligible for funding.

For instance, suppose one staging area in a State has three Blackhawk helicopters pre-positioned. One Blackhawk helicopter from the staging area is used in the wildland firefighting efforts for a declared fire. Only the pre-positioning costs for that one Blackhawk helicopter are eligible for funding. The use of one piece of equipment on a declared fire does not make pre- positioning costs for an entire staging area (i.e., all three Blackhawk helicopters) eligible for funding.

In order for pre-positioning costs to be considered eligible under FMAGP, the State must:

  • Notify the FEMA Regional Director of its intention to seek funding for pre-positioning resources at the same time as it submits the declaration request (or immediately thereafter). Since pre-positioning is undertaken in anticipation of an event, it is reasonable for a State to know whether or not it anticipates submitting costs for pre-positioning at the time the declaration request is approved or shortly thereafter.
  • Document specific resources (number, type), estimated cost, and duration of pre-positioned resources.
  • Provide detailed justification for pre-positioning, including scientific indicators such as drought indices, current allocation of State firefighting resources, weather conditions, and the number of wildland fires currently burning in the State.

Other Emergency Work. FEMA may provide funding under FMAGP for essential assistance to reduce or minimize immediate threats to life and property under Section 403 of the Stafford Act when such assistance is directly related to the mitigation, management, and control of the declared fire.

Mitigation, management, and control are those activities undertaken, generally during the incident period of a declared fire, to minimize the immediate adverse effects and to manage and control the fire. Eligible activities may include associated emergency work and pre-positioning equipment directly related to the declared fire to reduce the spread of a declared fire, reduce associated health and safety threats, prevent potential damages by the declared fire, and repair damage caused in the performance of eligible wildland firefighting activities. Only emergency work occurring during the incident period of a declared fire are eligible for funding. Activities designed to reduce the potential for future fires or to minimize damages from future fires are ineligible for funding under FMAGP.

Essential mitigation, management, and control activities under Section 403 may include:

  • Police barricading and traffic control;
  • Extraordinary emergency operations center expenses;
  • Evacuation and sheltering (people and animals);
  • Search and rescue;
  • Arson patrol and investigation teams;
  • Public information dissemination to inform people what to do during the declared fire;
  • Limited removal of burned or unburned trees (i.e., snags) that threaten the safety of the general public.

Temporary Repairs. FMAGP funding may be available for the temporary repair of damage caused by firefighting activities related to a declared fire. Repair activities must be temporary actions that protect the immediate safety of the general public. All temporary repair of damage caused by firefighting activities must be completed within 30 days of the close of the incident period for the declared fire. It should be noted that temporary repair of damage caused by firefighting activities does not include repair of damage caused by the declared fire.

Examples of temporary repair activities that may be eligible for funding include:

  • Temporary repairs to bulldozer lines, field camps, and staging areas to address safety concerns.

For example, assume that a heavily trafficked park or recreation area was severely gouged by firefighting activities. Because these gouges may affect public health and safety, a temporary repair to them may include refilling the gouges or boarding them over. Temporary repairs would not include a complete re-grading of an entire park or recreation area.

  • Temporary repairs to facilities damaged by firefighting activities, such as fences, buildings, bridges, and roads.

An example of a temporary repair might include repairing a portion of a white picket fence (removed to allow wildland firefighting resources to gain access to the declared fire) with a chain link fence to temporarily replace the removed fence.

Mobilization and Demobilization. Costs for mobilizing and demobilizing resources to and from a declared fire may be eligible for reimbursement under FMAGP.

  • Mobilization is the process by which Federal, State, and local entities are activated, assembled, and transported to respond to or support a declared fire .
  • Demobilization is the process of deactivating, disassembling, and transporting back to their point of origin all wildland firefighting resources that had been provided to respond to and support a declared fire .

Demobilization costs may be claimed after submittal of other eligible costs if deployment involves one or more declared fires. IMPORTANT: If resources are being used on more than one declared fire, mobilization and demobilization costs must be claimed against the first declared fire on which they are used.

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Ineligible Costs

Ineligible costs under FMAGP include the following:

  • Costs not directly associated with the fire’s incident period (with the exception of pre-positioning, mobilization and demobilization of eligible resources);
  • Costs incurred in the mitigation, management, and control of undeclared fires;
  • Costs for the straight or regular time salaries and benefits of permanently employed or reassigned personnel of a subgrantee;
  • Time and costs expended by volunteer labor, which by nature is offered on a donated basis and is not bound by contract or employment terms (See “Donated Resources” below);
  • Costs for mitigation, management, and control of a declared fire on co-mingled Federal land when such costs are reimbursable to the State by a Federal agency under another statute (44 CFR Part 151);
  • Costs related to planning, pre-suppression, recovery, and mitigation of possible future damage related to the burn area of the declared fire;
  • Planning actions such as risk assessments;
  • Cutting fire-breaks without the presence of an imminent threat;
  • Pre-planned non-field training;
  • Road widening;
  • Land rehabilitation such as seeding, planting operations, and erosion control;
  • Timber salvage; and
  • Restoration of facilities damaged by fire.

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Donated Resources

In some fires, individuals and organizations donate volunteer labor, equipment, and material. FEMA has determined that the value of “in-kind” contributions by third parties may be credited toward the calculation of the non-Federal cost share. FEMA Policy No. 9525.2, Donated Resources, should be used for guidance on how to credit applicants for the value of donated resources (refer to the Policies section of this site).

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