Saluda becomes first in county to provide paid continuous fire, EMT coverage

Published 6:29 pm Tuesday, April 14, 2009

&dquo;We are very proud of this accomplishment and we can provide the citizens of Saluda and surrounding areas with a quicker response time to emergencies,&dquo; says Saluda Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Zach Pace.

The department was awarded the SAFER grant in January and hired the two additional firefighters a couple of weeks ago. The grant allows the three paid firefighters to cover the department continuously.

The SAFER grant pays 90 percent of the salaries the first year, 80 percent of the salaries the second year, 50 percent of the salaries the third year and 30 percent the fourth year. Saluda Fire and Rescue will be responsible for full salary payment of the two firefighters from the fifth year on.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Of Polk County&39;s six fire departments, Columbus, Tryon and Saluda have paid employees in addition to volunteers. The other departments are run strictly with volunteers. Tryon and Columbus have paid chiefs.

The FEMA SAFER grant was created to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations in order to help them increase the number of trained, &dquo;front-line&dquo; firefighters available in their communities.