The City of Milton is asking the Department of Homeland Security for enough money to fund nine new firefighters to provide service in the Deerfield/Highway 9 area.
City Council approved making an application for a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant. According to a report by Fire Marshal Mat Marietta, this grant project looks specifically to the opening of the new GA 9 fire station.
Mariett'a's report, given to City Council at their Aug. 6 meeting, said the primary goal of the program is to assist local fire departments’ staffing and deployment capabilities to respond to emergencies, assuring that departments have adequate protection from fire and fire related hazards. It includes a minimum of 15 percent of the total funds allocated for hiring of firefighters to expand current programs, as opposed to staving off layoffs and brownouts, which is also a focus of the program in the current economic climate.
This won't be the first time Milton uses a SAFER grant for this purpose. Marietta said it has used SAFER Grant successfully for the past four years, providing substantial funding for three current firefighters. He said they have had good
success with the program. Since the grant began, Milton has managed the transition from federally-funded to city-funded salaries. That would be the goal with this grant also, if it is awarded.
Milton seeks $468,000 in 2013 and $468,720 in 2014 from the SAFER grant. Hiring the nine firefighters would cost the city $27,000 the first year and $5,000 a year later. But starting in 2015, Milton would pick up the full cost of salary and benefits for the new firefighters. That cost is projected to start at $511,389 in 2016 and increase to $575,283 by 2018, the last year of the grant.
The grant period is longer than the federal funding lasts to assure that the positions are new, permanent hires.
With the grant, the city hopes to:
- Reduce response times, meeting a goal of 15 firefighters on scene of a structure fire within eight minutes of alarm time;
- Meet the standard of "two in and two out," which is a
requirement that for every two firefighters placed in an environment that is immediately dangerous to life and health, there are two additional firefighters outside.
Marietta told City Council that without the SAFER grant, the city would have to delay hiring additional personnel for added apparatus until later years.
City Council voted unanimously to approve application for the grant.