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State Fire Marshal

A Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety

Service Planning Grant Program


Service Planning Grants can be used for information-gathering and a variety of studies. Those studies can examine everything from sharing training needs, administrative costs, personnel and equipment, to full consolidation of departments. If a department has an idea, the State Fire Marshal Division (SFMD) wants to hear it.


Eligible Use of Funds

These funds are to be used to pay for (but are not limited to solely paying for) a third-party feasibility study that addresses the study requirements listed below and the options for service planning, including (but not limited to) those provided in “A Blueprint for Shared Services.” ​A prerequisite could also be from a group’s independent study done to show that implementation will benefit all groups involved and improve service.


Study Requirements

The study will include:
  • A clear set of goals that identifies how the participating fire departments/cities/townships will more efficiently plan for future service improvements in the areas of (but not limited to) training, department administration, personnel, equipment or department consolidation.
  • An analysis of the efficiency and effectiveness of emergency response and benefit to the population served. 
The study should also take into account:
  • Geographic area, population density and other factors that encourage communities’ and fire service providers’ voluntary participation.
  • Funding sources for the project if implemented.
  • Cooperative training among departments and equipment procurement between departments.
  • Employment issues associated with combining existing agencies and entities into a regional or multi-jurisdictional entity for consolidation projects.
  • An analysis of best practices in the creation and functioning of public-safety-related service planning delivery models.
  • A preliminary set of operating procedures for cooperative shared fire and rescue service systems. 
The grants are broken into three categories:
  1. Exploratory. For example, a city that does not have a fire department but is exploring the options.
  2. Planning. For example, departments that would benefit from a county-wide/regional set of standard operating procedures/standard operating guidelines; multiple departments considering sharing a piece of equipment.
  3. Implementation. The oversight committee will decide whether the implementation justifies the cost. The prerequisite for Implementation Grants would be an Exploratory Grant, Planning Grant or a previous Shared Services Grant. A prerequisite could also be from a group’s independent study done to show that implementation will benefit all groups involved and improve service. 

How to Apply

  1. Interested parties will be directed to take the online survey.
  2. The survey will be forwarded to an SFMD fire service specialist (FSS).
  3. A kickoff meeting will be set up with all players. The FSS will ensure all parties are identified. This meeting is facilitated by the FSS, and a clear set of goals and milestones will be agreed upon by the group with oversight by the FSS. The meeting will include fire chiefs and elected officials. At this meeting, the parties must identify a champion of the project that is not the FSS. The application must be completed. All forms and information can be acquired through your FSS.
    The application consists of: 

    -- Project information sheet.
    -- Project application narrative.
    -- Program budget request, to include budget milestones (total budget amount should be known before application is submitted).
    -- Letter from each participating jurisdiction indicating their intent to cooperate in the study.
    -- Proof of an independent study or equivalent must be submitted with the application if a group is applying for an Implementation Grant and has not had a previous --- Shared Services Study, Exploratory, or Planning Grant.​

  4. The scoring/oversight committee will review and score the application.
  5. Successful applicants will be recommended to the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS), who will make the final determination. Once a grant request has been awarded, a formal grant agreement will be prepared and must be signed by the grantee’s organization and DPS. Once the signature process has been completed, the grant is considered fully executed and becomes a legally binding agreement between the grantee’s organization and DPS. 

Post Application Process

Scoring/Oversight Committee

The scoring and oversight committee will consist of one member from each of the following organizations:
  • Minnesota State Fire Department Association as appointed by their president.
  • Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association as appointed by their president.
  • Minnesota Professional Firefighters as appointed by their president.
  • Minnesota SFMD as appointed.
  • League of Minnesota Cities as appointed.
  • Association of Minnesota Townships as appointed.
  • Fire Service Advisory Committee as appointed by their chair. 


The grant funds are available on a cost-reimbursement basis where costs are reimbursed after they are incurred and paid by the grantee agencies. This process is similar to the FEMA AFG (Assistance to Firefighters Grant) process. Here is a breakdown of reimbursement percentages:
  • Up to $25,000 – 5 percent match
  • $25,001 to $50,000 – 10 percent match
  • $50,001 and up – 15 percent match 
$55,000 total grant
State pays $46,750 = 85 percent of total grant
Local entity pays $8,250 = 15 percent of total grant
$24,000 total grant
State pays $22,800 = 95 percent of total grant
Local entity pays $1,200 = 5 percent of total grant
The match percent is determined by the total grant amount. This amount should be determined before application is submitted.
The grantee organization will be required to provide to the SFMD with the written report on the results of the study and a written summary of all expenditures, including documentation on how the grant and matching funds were spent.  Completed studies will be available to be viewed on the SFMD website. Each Entity will be required to take surveys after the grant is completed and again when the project is completed, this will enable data tracking for SFMD personnel and future requests for grant money.
Although we would like to fund every project applied for, that may not be possible. Negotiations on proposals may occur; groups may be asked to clarify statements in their applications or to modify their budgets.


Service Planning Grant Program Timeline

  • August: SFMD program planning
  • September: Announcement of Service Planning Grant and application period
  • Jan. 31: Application deadline
  • February: Selection and notification of grant recipients
  • March-May: Program implementation by cities, townships and departments (soft deadline)
  • April: Reallocation of Service Planning Grant funds (if applicable)
  • June: Program closeout (hard deadline)

Service Planning Grant Program FAQs

Do we need to know the total grant amount before we apply for a grant? Yes, this determines the match amount and defines the project a little more.

Can the grant be used for implementation costs, or costs other than paying a consultant for a study? Yes, the grant funds can also be used for things that the oversight committee determines a reasonable use of funds. 


Service Planning Grant Final Reports

A link to previous “Service Planning Grant Studies” (2010, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2018/19)


Application Submission

A complete application packet must be received by 4 p.m. CST Jan. 31, 2018, preferably by email, to:
Tate Mills
State Fire Marshal Division
445 Minnesota St., Suite 145
St. Paul, MN 55101-5145
Any questions about the application process should be directed to Tate Mills at 320-333-2817 or