(Seguin) -- The Seguin Fire Department will soon be three firefighters stronger thanks to winning a competitive FEMA grant.
Seguin Fire Chief Dale Skinner says The Department of Homeland Security through FEMA has approved and funded the city's application to pay for three new positions with a city match. He says the 'Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response' (SAFER) Grant will provide 75 percent of the new position salaries for two years and 35 percent for the third year for three entry-level firefighters.
"It is very exciting because we are able to increase our required staffing. We are going to be able to add three additional firefighters to our ranks -- allowing us to place into service a third ambulance. Currently, we offer two ambulances 24/7 and our third ambulance is only staffed up when both ambulances are busy and we have the additional staffing available to put that third ambulance into service. We currently rely on mutual aid from our surrounding communities or private ambulances to provide that third ambulance for us. So this will allow us to be able to take care of it internally. We can go hours without a single call and then within a matter of five minutes, we have three ambulances out on calls," said Skinner.
Chief Skinner thanks the city's grand coordinator, Dana Losey, for writing a winning application. He says the department had applied several times before, but was never selected until this year. It's a very competitive process since you are competing gainst so many other cities who also need additional personnel. He says the new staffing level will keep residents safer since the department will be better able to respond during an emergency.
"It will increase the likelihood of having an ambulance in service, and available for response. Today, we rely heavily on private entities and surrounding departments as our back up which, in some cases, have an extended response time. The additional personnel on-duty will also allow for safer operations on emergency scenes," said Skinner.
The SAFER grant was created to provide funding directly to fire departments to help them increase or maintain
the number of trained "front line" fire fighters available in their communities. The goal of the grant is to enhance the local fire departments' abilities to comply with staffing, response and operational standards established by the National Fire Protection Association.