By ANDREA POTEET
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – The city is taking steps to up its fire department after receipt of a federal grant.
Monday, councilors passed a resolution to hire two probationary firefighters, the first steps in spending a $616,876 Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Homeland Security Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant the City Council accepted Jan. 15.
The grant was awarded Dec. 15.
One of the positions will be funded through the grant; the other is a replace
ment of a position vacated by a resignation in July that is already budgeted for the current fiscal year.
The two men are to be hired pending testing and background checks and will be on probation for 18 months
Wyandotte Fire Chief Jeff Carley said the city’s Firefighter’s Civil Service Commission is preparing its list of pre-tested potential firefighters and it should be available in the next few months.
“The goal is March, he said. “We’ll have two hired and by the end of April, the next three will be hired.”
The grant has caused controversy in other Downriver communities. A SAFER grant has been tabled several times in Allen Park and is still being considered by the city’s emergency financial manager, and last year Taylor Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand was found guilty of contempt of court after refusing a judge’s order to accept a $8.1 SAFER grant he’d declined to based on “hidden costs” – mainly a no-layoff clause – associated with the grant he felt the city could not afford. He later accepted the grant.
Carley said the grant awarded to Wyandotte has no such no-layoff clause. Carley said after the grant ends, the city may keep the new firefighters on through attrition, apply for a SAFER retention grant to keep them on, or, in a “worst-case scenario,” lay them off if the city’s financial situation does not improve.