The federal government is willing to pick up most of the expenses related to hiring more firefighters in Burlington if the city is willing to handle the rest of the cost.
Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) announced the Burlington Fire Department was awarded $1,002,174 from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program.
“It is essential that our local fire departments have adequate staff to protect our homes, businesses, and communities,” said Loebsack in making the announcement. “I congratulate the Burlington Fire Department on receiving this competitive grant. This funding helps make certain they have the proper staffing to continue to safely serve the people of Burlington.”
Assistant Fire Chief Don Ryan said the grant would allow the department to add six firefighters, which would bring the per-shift staffing level from 13 to 15.
“It’s a tremendous boost for us,” said Ryan. “One of the main reasons we applied for this is because our call volumes have gone up tremendously over the past several years. This is a way to help counter act that with our personnel.”
Ryan said the additional firefighters would also improve response times for the ambulance service.
“All new firefighters who get hired will eventually become paramedics,” said Ryan. “They will maintain that throughout their career here so being that we are dual duty -- they can be moved off an ambulance and onto a fire truck. That opens up that opportunity to provide better manning and hopefully shorten response times.”
The grant would pay for part of the cost of the new firefighters for a few years.
- Year 1 – Grant – 75% / City – 25%
- Year 2 – Grant – 75% / City – 25%
- Year 3 – Grant – 35% / City – 65%
- Year 4 – Grant – 0% / City – 100%
Ryan said the city council authorized the fire department to apply for the federal funding. Now aldermen must decide whether to accept the grant.
He said hiring could get underway once aldermen sign off.