Waiver Of Grant Requirements Makes New Firefighter Hires A Win-Win Situation

City Council members are poised to hire an additional eight firefighters through a federal SAFER grant.

They should approve the hires as long as they are comfortable that there won’t be strings attached to the grant that will be a hinderance to the city down the road.

To their credit, Mayor Eddie Sundquist and his team appear to have snipped the type of strings for the first three-year SAFER grant that have tripped up past applications. There appears to be no commitment, for example, for the city to commit to keeping the firefighters on duty after the grant expires. FEMA officials noted in their award letter that the federal agency has waiver position cost limits, cost sharing requirements, minimum budget requirements and a non-supplanting requirement for the SAFER grant. That may not sound like a lot, but waiving those requirements should help keep unanticipated costs from hitting the city budget.

Matt Coon, Jamestown deputy fire chief, said the city should be able to keep the new hires on duty as older firefighters retire in the coming three years, putting to rest fears that the council or administration will be put in the position of laying off firefighters if another SAFER grant isn’t awarded when the current grant expires.

More firefighters means a quicker EMS response and less overtime for firefighters who already perform a difficult job when there is a fire — especially a big fire like last year’s fire at a former Crawford Furniture plant or the former Jamestown Royal Upholstery. And, it will hopefully lessen the number of times volunteer firefighters from the surrounding communities respond inside the city — that’s no knock on the volunteers, but an acknowledgement they’re busy enough responding to calls in towns and villages without responding in the city as well.

It sounds like a win-win situation.


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