Technology Funding Falling Short? Consider the AFG.

Vehicle purchases, PPE, and facility upgrades may stand out first when reviewing the list of approved purchases under the Assistance for Firefighters Grant, but they’re not the only ways you can use the funds to enrich your fire services agency.

The AFG may also be used to purchase software that serves certain compliance-friendly needs—great news for agencies looking for reasons to justify an application, as well as those caught in a “big needs, small budget” situation, a sadly common challenge in the public safety industry.

What’s that mean for your agency? Potentially a lot of things, provided you could see your agency benefitting from software that enhances:

And while primarily focused on the fire services (including state fire training academies), the AFG makes provisions for “nonaffiliated EMS organizations” as well.

A quick look at the AFG

Funding isn’t a guarantee in the fire services. That, in part, is what makes the AFG so attractive.

The grant, provided by FEMA, is typically open for applications during a two-month window starting in January.

From the listed uses for the funds, your technology needs may fall under the grant’s provisions for “training, equipment, wellness and fitness programs,” “joint/regional interoperability products,” or other purposes.

There’s a lot of room for interpretation here, and a solid argument for the presence of better training and preparation tools inside it.

This year, the AFG has handed out nearly $320 million in funding to 2,000 applicants, with a total award ceiling of $3,550.  

That’s a significant amount of money, and there’s flexibility in the restrictions a grant can impose: A cash-strapped agency’s budget may only allow for the purchase of a bare-bones training package, for instance, while an influx of money intended only for a software purchase can allow for more robust implementation and usage.

Getting a head start

Among a lot of other requirements, getting an AFG will require solid demonstration of need. Making a case here may be easier than you think.

First, look at how your agency currently provides training to personnel:  

  1. What formats do your people currently train in? Physical training in mock firegrounds is just one dimension—online, in-class, and other forms of coursework, like certification testing, count here as well.
  1. What infrastructure supports your training activity? How much of a role does software play versus physical processes?

More to the point, learning management systems (LMSs) like Acadis® can enhance training in ways you might not be aware of if you haven’t evaluated software in a while. For example, the recent acquisition of Guardian Tracking has facilitated an evolution of the Acadis platform in ways that apply directly to the AFG.

Using the AFG for software purchases

At the highest level, the Acadis® Readiness Suite is a full-feature training platform with modules that address the many aspects of public safety readiness.

That alone could make it a match for the AFG’s training provision, but Acadis offers some added depth that makes it even more relevant as an AFG-compliant software tool:


  • As a full “hire to retire” records management platform, Acadis makes it easy to integrate vital training data directly into individual records. This level of centralization can make analysis easier and lead to stronger, more holistic training regimens.

Interoperability with other agencies.

  • Because it is cloud based and simple to administer, Acadis makes it easy to make relevant records (and only relevant records) available for collaboration with partnering agencies; naturally, this works just the same on the other agency’s side. This alone makes it extremely effective in breaking down the data silos that occur between agencies with operational or geographical gaps, while mitigating the risk of oversharing, or making the wrong data available.


  • Closely linked to training, this is another area where centralized visibility and collection makes it easier to stay current. Things like checking individual compliance with state or local training standards and viewing whole-group compliance with various training modules are two ideas that might stand out for agencies in need of an upgrade.

In other words, training is but one hook agencies can use to justify the need for AFG funds.

Use these general points to review your specific situation and see what you can find—there are almost certainly areas where automation, centralization, and the other concepts Acadis is built around may prove very beneficial in the long term.

Posted on May 4, 2021