Mill Spring Fire Dept. receives $235k grant to recruit, retain volunteers

Published 4:51 pm Thursday, February 5, 2009

Increased staffing will benefit other parts of Polk County as well when other departments in the county need mutual aid from Mill Spring, he said.

The SAFER Grant was created to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter organizations in order to help them increase the number of trained, &dquo;front-line&dquo; firefighters available in their communities. There is no requirement for matching funds from the Mill Spring department.

According to FEMA, programs to recruit and retain volunteers may include providing incentives for volunteer firefighter members to continue their service in a fire department. Examples of the type of initiatives that may receive assistance include, but are not limited, to the following:

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&ull; Accidental death and dismemberment insurance

&ull; College education cost reimbursement

&ull; Training above and beyond the required initial certification training

&ull; Reimbursement for lost wages while attending training

&ull; Marketing program costs to recruit new volunteer members

&ull; Staffing needs assessment

&ull; Explorer, cadet, and/or mentoring programs

&ull; Tuition assistance for higher education and professional certifications

&ull; Workers compensation

&ull; Length of service awards and other retirement benefits

&ull; Initial physicals

The goal of SAFER is to enhance the local fire departments&squo; abilities to comply with staffing, response and operational standards established by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

SAFER funds help local fire departments increase their staffing and deployment capabilities in order to respond to emergencies whenever they may occur.

As a result of the enhanced staffing, response times should be sufficiently reduced with an appropriate number of personnel assembled at the incident scene.

Also, the enhanced staffing should provide that all front-line/first-due apparatus of SAFER grantees have a minimum of four trained personnel to meet the OSHA standards.

Ultimately, a faster, safer and more efficient incident scene will be established and communities will have more adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards. &bsp;

Since 2002, FEMA has provided over $3.6 billion in grants to fire departments and first responder organizations to purchase response equipment, personal protective equipment, vehicles and fire prevention activities.&bsp; AFG is administered cooperatively by two FEMA components:&bsp; the Grants Program Directorate and the United States Fire Administration.