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VESEP grants – be ahead of the game
Brigades are being encouraged to start thinking and preparing now for any vehicle, equipment and building grant submissions they were thinking to put in through the Victorian Emergency Services Equipment Program (VESEP), and to get the right support and advice from district staff.
Vehicle and equipment grants will be on many members’ minds right now following last month’s announcement of 179 VESEP grants for CFA.
While the 2017 round of funding applications may seem some way off, submissions will be opening in March – which could come about quickly for brigades faced with a busy training and summer fire season.
North East region’s Andrew Hodson, one of eight Finance Officer Brigades around the state, urges brigades in his patch not to leave their applications until the last minute. Watch a short video of Andrew speaking at the District 22 Captain's Forum held at Shepparton in July.
“You want to make sure your application has the best chance of approval,” said Andrew
“Start planning now and think about how much your activity or piece of equipment is going to cost. Don’t be rushed when applications start. If you start now, you’ve got months to get on top of it.”
For brigade officers looking at a piece of equipment on the market, Andrew’s advice is to check first with the catchment team as to whether or not that item lines up with approved standards for CFA and meets the overall Catchment and District plan.
“Vehicles in particular need operational approval before you can go ahead, so it’s vital that you check with the Catchment Team as to whether that item can be bought.”
“Your Ops manager will have final approval, and remember that they will also be looking at it from the bigger picture to consider if there is a genuine operational need - there may be other ways for that need to be covered or other plans on the cards.”
Andrew underlined that – as VESEP grant applications are first vetted and prioritised at the catchment team level – it made sense to involve them in the process.
And for new buildings or major modifications, it was even more important to approach the district early and register concepts with CFA’s VESEP Minor Works Project Manager.
Andrew said that to be successful, applications for a VESEP grant also need to include a business plan around whatever it is they are looking to purchase.
“That is not just a plan for how you are going to buy it or fundraise for it. You need to provide costings for how you are going to store, maintain and possibly replace it.
Another important consideration for brigades is gathering supporting data to make sure their submission to VESEP makes a compelling case.
“You want enough information to give a sound rationale for why you need that purchase, without going overboard. If you write ‘War and Peace' no-one will read it,” said Andrew, who advises brigades to look at the examples on VFBV’s website.
“If you can get even 80 per cent of the work done in advance you will be in a great position to get it done with a minimum of fuss come February or March.”
A listing of grant recipients for 2016 can be viewed on Brigades Online.
Of the 179 CFA grants, 56 are for replacing or upgrading vehicles, 79 for improvements to volunteer amenities, and 44 for equipment items.