Missoula May Hire New Firefighters
As of January 30, 2012, more than 380 million dollars is available for fire departments nationwide. The money is available through the Safer Act Grants, which were put in place by the Department of Homeland Security. SAFER is an acronym that stands for Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response. The goal of the SAFER grants is to ensure that fire departments have enough staff members to respond to tragedies in a timely manner. The grants for full time staff members are only good for 24 months (volunteer fire department staff receive 48 months of coverage). Assistant Fire Chief with the Missoula Rural Fire Department, Brent Christopherson explains the difficult decision his department has to make regarding the grant money.
The Missoula City Fire Department used a SAFER Grant back in 2007 when it staffed Station 5 for the Grant Creek area. That grant will end this year and the city will take on the full burden of paying for the new firefighters. As of now, there are no plans for any staff cuts in either the City or the Rural Fire Departments.