DHSEM and state fire officials estimate more than $20 million in grants will be available this year
Santa Fe, NM – Applications for FY22 Fire Protection Grants are open as of July 15, 2021 and will close on September 15, 2021. All fire departments currently certified and funded by the New Mexico State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) are eligible to apply, including municipal and county departments, as well as paid, volunteer, and combination-funded departments. The application is available here, and details on eligibility and application requirements are available here.
DHSEM and state fire officials estimate more than $20 million in grants will be available in FY22, depending on revenue for the state’s Insurance Services Office (ISO) and SFMO operating costs. This figure represents a substantial increase from the $6.6 million distributed in FY21 – largely due to Senate Bill 256, which Governor Lujan Grisham signed into law earlier this year. This bipartisan legislation reversed a 2017 law requiring that 60% of capital in the Fire Protection Fund revert to the state’s General Fund, which effectively cut the funds for Fire Protection Grants in half. In FY21 alone, New Mexico firefighters lost out on $13 million in possible funding. Now, fire departments have access to 100% of the available capital in the Fire Protection Fund.
From FY19 to FY21, the Fire Grant Council distributed more than 260 grants to departments across the state:
- Taos County Fire Districts received four grants in FY21 totaling more than $497,000. These grants provided funding for new breathing equipment for the Hondo-Seco Fire District, a water storage tank and water system for the Latir Fire District, a new Pumper Tender for the San Cristobal Fire District, and $65,000 for the county’s new Rescue Unit. “With these grants, we are transitioning to a combination paid/volunteer Fire and EMS service, which will be huge for Taos County,” said Taos County Fire Chief Mike Cordova. “We would like to thank the Fire Grant Council and the Fire Services Support Bureau for considering and approving all these grants.”
- In Corrales, which has no municipal water/hydrant water system, a $200,000 award from the Fire Grant Council enabled firefighters to install two fire pump systems and 25 fire hydrants. “Being able to access funding through the Fire Grant Council has been critical in expanding Corrales’ fire protection system and helping the Department lower our ISO rating,” said Corrales Fire Chief Anthony Martinez. “The citizens’ support for the project has been wonderful, and I will be continuing to seek funding through the Fire Grant Council.”
- In Portales, firefighters purchased more than $100,000 in protective equipment and breathing apparatuses using Fire Grant funds. “We greatly appreciate the award of this funding, which will assist our department in maintaining safer NFPA Compliant equipment for our personnel,” said Portales Fire Chief Timothy Cathey. “This grant funding allowed us to replace about half of our out-of-date equipment that was no longer NFPA compliant. We plan to apply for the FY22 Fire Protection Grant to hopefully complete this project.”
- Other grants from this period include: $86,000 for thermal imaging cameras in Albuquerque, $100,000 for facility repairs in Hidalgo County, and $200,000 for a new Class A firetruck in Eagle Nest.
Beyond providing new funds for New Mexico’s fire departments, SB256 also expanded stipends for volunteer firefighters to every region in the state, not just regions deemed “underserved,” and it established processes and funding for the Fire Grant Council to address firefighter recruitment and retention across the state. With better-funded fire departments, many New Mexicans may also benefit from lower home insurance premiums. In 2020, the Ranchvale Fire Department used capital from the Fire Protection Fund to purchase a dedicated water system, which helped to significantly improve the area’s ISO rating – a key metric that insurers use to set prices.
“The rural nature of New Mexico and the current funding structures for most departments mean the Fire Protection Grant Fund is an incredibly important resource for local fire departments,” said Fire Grant Council Chairperson Robert Larranaga. “These grants allow departments to purchase or replace highly specialized equipment that is critical for emergency fire and medical services. And with the recent increase in funds thanks to SB256, we can now expand recruitment programs that will inspire younger members of our communities to join their local firefighting force.”
DHSEM works to protect the people of New Mexico and the nation through a comprehensive and coordinated program of mitigating hazards, preparing for emergencies, preventing attacks, and recovering from disasters.