HEIGHTS – The Fire Department announced it will soon receive over $1 million in federal grants. The funding, which will become available later this year, will help bolster the department’s staffing levels, as well as help in the purchase of two new rescue vehicles.
Through the Federal Emergency Management Agency Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant, the department will receive $889,700 that will be used to help bring the department’s staffing back to its full complement of 48 firefighters.
According to Fire Chief David Brogan, the search for the eight new firefighters will begin immediately upon the City Council’s approval and acceptance of the grant, which is expected to take place later this month. The grant stipulates that new firefighters must be hired within 90 days of official acceptance.
Brogan encourages any potential applicants who meet the minimum requirements to contact the city’s Human Resources Department for more information. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, have completed 60 college credits, and have successfully completed the Firefighter 1 and Firefighter 2 training courses from an accredited institution. Prior to their date of hire, applicants must also have completed the training for, and hold the paramedic designation.
Brogan also emphasized that the city has special provisions that provide credit for military veterans who served in the capacity of a paramedic during their time in service.
The SAFER grant was created to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help them increase or maintain the number of trained, “front line” firefighters available in their communities.
The goal of SAFER is to enhance local fire departments’ abilities to comply with staffing, response and operational standards established by the National Fire Protection Association.
The DHFD will receive an additional $136,340 in funds through the FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant. These funds will help offset the $450,000 price tag of the two new vehicles by approximately 30 percent. Once the new units are secured, the department’s two oldest units – that serve as backup units to those purchased approximately two years ago – will be disposed of, hopefully, as part of a trade-in agreement during the purchase process, Brogan said.
Now 10 years old, the old backup units have been “stretched far beyond their functional capacity, and are badly in need of replacing,” Brogam said. “They have gone nearly twice the normal five-year expected lifespan of these types of vehicles.”
The 2-year-old units that currently serve as the department’s “primary” vehicles will be relegated to the role of backup, which will help extend their life of their serviceability. Each of the city’s two fire stations will house one of the new vehicles, as well as one of the 2-year-old backup units.
Last year, the Fire Department responded to about 5,500 medical runs. Based on current projections, the department will respond to upward of 6,000 calls for medical assistance by the end of the year.
The department expects to take delivery of the new units in early to mid-2016, after an extensive specification and bidding process.
The primary goal of FEMA’s AFG is to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical service organizations. Since 2001, AFG has helped firefighters and other first responders to obtain critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training and other resources needed to protect the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards.
Brogan credits the work of the department’s grant writer, Lisa Martin, for securing these grants.
“Thanks to her efforts, the city will save over a million dollars this year when securing these needed resources,” he said. “This is a great savings for us.”