By BOB OLIVER
HEIGHTS — Fire Chief Dave Brogan discussed recent and future hirings March 4 at a City Council study session.
He also discussed how the staffing hires will be helped in their funding by the two-year $650,000 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant that the department was awarded from the federal government this year.
Funds from the SAFER grant will be used to hire six new firefighters, which will bring the department back to its traditional staffing level of 48. The department has been working with 42 firefighters the past few years.
“That’s a big help because with the extra firefighters we’ll be able to lower our overtime costs,” Brogan said. “We handle about 20 runs a day between two stations and each call takes about an hour, so we’re pretty busy. We also have maintenance and training to fit in as well, so it adds up.”
Brogan said the department handled roughly 7,000 calls last year, with 5,200 EMS rescue runs and 1,800 fire-related runs.
He said three of the new hires will be pump operators.
“We’ve funded ourselves short three pump operators because we were short in manpower the last few years,” Brogan said. “Now that the manpower is coming back we are looking to fill those other three pump operator positions.”
In addition to the pump operators, Brogan said the department is hiring a full-time administrator to be an EMS grant writer for the next year.
“This is for a trial basis to see what kind of success it will have,” Brogan said. “We already have quite a few grants and we feel that if we dedicate more time to searching these out it will really help our funding.”
He said the administrator also could teach EMS classes to firefighters as well.
Brogan stressed that the position is temporary and that the department will closely monitor it to see if it will be cost-efficient moving forward.
“We’ll evaluate it next year and decide if it’s something that we want to keep,” Brogan said. “But we think this position will pay for itself in what it could get us.”
Brogan said the interview process for candidates is under way and that the department is looking to fill the position as soon as possible.
(Bob Oliver can be reached at [email protected])