By Mindy Ragan Wood
The Yukon Fire Department will add three firefighters as early as March 2020 after it receives a $415,000 grant.
The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant (SAFER) is awarded through FEMA and it’s been a long time coming. Yukon city council approved the grant acceptance during its regular meeting last week.
“We’ve applied 15 times for this grant,” Yukon Fire Chief Shawn Vogt said. “This is the first time we got the SAFER grant that we are aware of.”
Vogt said call volume is up at least 10 percent while the department is running three-man crews for its fire engine trucks. The grant will bring the department in compliance with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) code 1710 which recommends four firefighters, he said.
“It’s expensive to have staffing,” Vogt said. “This will at least get us in that direction unless we have people who are off (work), to be able to do that.”
The purpose of the grant is not to relieve overtime but to achieve staffing levels according to the NFPA for enhanced safety.
“This will help with overtime, but it won’t cut it out completely,” Vogt said. “We’re just mainly concerned about the staffing with our increased call volume. We want to be able to provide the best service for our citizens as well as keeping our guys safer.”
Yukon Deputy Fire Chief Kyle Trumbly said the department hired a grant writer with expertise in qualifying for the SAFER grant.
“In researching these grants, in order to be competitive because they (FEMA) get so many of them (applications), we hired someone to write the narrative. There are key words listed in the application. Our staff including human resources, our grant writer for the city and administrative staff compiled information regarding our department,” Trumbly said. “It was a team effort getting that information together and providing that to the grant writer.”
The department has 36 firefighters. The grant will pay 75 percent of the salary and benefits for the first two years, 35 percent for the third year.
The City of Yukon will be responsible for pay if it decides to retain the employees.
Trumbly said the grant does not pay for uniforms and fire safety gear for the three firefighters.
“We budgeted for that in case we got the grant,” Vogt said.