U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, announced the Fairfield Fire Department has been awarded an $810,122 grant, which city officials say will help supplement its public safety levy funds voters approved this past November.
The money is a part of a federal staffing grant, known as the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant, or SAFER, and will be used to hire fire fighters for two years. Fairfield Fire Lt. Tom Wagner authored the grant request.
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Fairfield City Manager Mark Wendling said the grant will hep offset the levy funds, “which is good so we can help extend the life of that levy a little more.”
Nearly 67 percent of voters approved a new 2.5-mill fire and EMS levy which is designed to raise $2.38 million annually. The fire department also operates on a 4.65-mill levy voters approved more than 15 years ago. The new levy would allow the city to add four more fire personnel as the department is working to increase the per-shift staffing levels from 13 to 17.
“Ohio firefighters and first-responders work every day to protect our families,” said Brown when he announced the grant which is through the federal Assistance to Firefighters Grants program. “We must support our first-responder organizations so that communities like Fairfield have the resources to shield families and homes from fire hazards.”
Wendling said it will take four to five months to hire the new firefighters.
In the mean time, as part of the city’s fire department restructuring, two new deputy fire chiefs — unrelated to the SAFER grant — are expected to be hired likely this late fall, said Assistant City Manager Greg Preece.
He said a top 10 has been selected to move on to an assessment interview, which test their firefighting skills and evaluating their management skills.
There are some internal candidates for the jobs, which will be a standard shift position though they’ll be on-call during off-hours.