Grant helps Liberty Twp. cut reliance on part-time firefighters

The Liberty Twp. Fire Department recently hired nine career firefighter/EMTs as a result of being awarded a federal grant from the Department of Homeland Security earlier this year.

The grant will reimburse $1.36 million over the next three years for the staffing of these new positions. Seven of the nine new hires are internal candidates who have been working as part-time employees.

The nine new hires include Corey Bauer, of Loveland; Luke Chapman, of Mason; Ryan Fogle, of Lawrenceburg, Indiana; Ryan Haines, of Reading; Jacob Hendricks, of Reily Twp.; Matthew Jones, of Beavercreek; Austin Phillips; Terrah Stuckey; and Jesse Sturm, of Cincinnati.

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Liberty Twp. Fire Chief Ethan Klussman and his department applied for the grant to maximize staffing while minimizing the budget’s impact. It also is a partial solution to the ongoing challenge of retaining part-time employees, he said. As a result of the grant, the township’s fire department will reduce its reliance on part-time personnel from six per day to three per day.

Klussman said he was excited to learn LTFD was awarded the grant but was even more enthusiastic about putting these great men and women into full-time positions

“To be able to promote so many from within our organization is also something I’m very proud of and shows the commitment the LTFD has to developing our people and planning for the future sustainability of the organization,”

The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant provides funding for 75 percent of the salary and benefits of an entry-level firefighter for the first two years. In year three, the grant covers 35 percent of the new hire’s salary and benefits.

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The LTFD has been working on a plan to add career firefighter/EMT positions. Township officials say because of this advanced planning, they are confident of their abilities to support the staffing profile beyond the three years of grant funding.

“We’ve got to give credit to Chief Klussman and his team for identifying the opportunity and being awarded the grant amongst significant national competition,” said Liberty Twp. Trustee President Steve Schramm. “When we hired the chief two years ago, we charged him with developing a future path for the LTFD. His initiative and commitment to finding long-term solutions to ongoing challenges has been impressive.”

Since Fiscal Year 2004, the Department of Homeland Security, through FEMA, has been awarding the SAFER Act to fire departments across the country. This Congressional Act provides funding to fire departments for the purpose of increasing the number of firefighters to help their communities meet industry-minimum standards and attain 24-hour staffing to provide adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards.

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