The Salisbury Fire Department has, again, been awarded the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant in the amount of over $2.7 million. The federal funding, which was awarded in August 2021 on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security, is a part of FEMA’s efforts to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter organizations to assist in increasing or maintaining the number of trained firefighters available.
The grant for the Salisbury Fire Department’s approved project has allowed the team to hire 12 new firefighters/EMTs with a full range of benefits, including LEOPS Retirement. The three-year, $2,716,236 grant will have no cost share by the City and is fully designated to the SFD.
“We are excited that we have been selected to receive this highly competitive grant again, and for the opportunity that it brings to the City and its citizens by placing these additional firefighters on duty,” said Fire Chief John Tull.
The 2018 SAFER grant allowed the Department to staff all three fire stations with a fire and EMS unit 24 hours a day, and the 2021 grant will allow SFD to have a deeper bench of employees. Over the last three years, the Department did not have FTE (Full Time Equivalent) Staffing to allow for time off without using overtime. The Department now has the breathing room for employees to recover from the past two busy years.
The SFD has documented statistical data proving that the SAFER employees have more than met the metrics and intended purpose of the SAFER grant. Reductions in response times, holding fires to room of origin, reductions in property loss values, and an increased ability to manage Emergency Medical Services (EMS) calls have been realized.
“As our City evolves and reaches new heights in population and housing growth, the safety of our citizens is paramount,” said Mayor Jake Day. “With the new employees and funds from the 2018 and 2021 SAFER grants, the Salisbury Fire Department has the resources to meet even higher standards and serve our citizens better than ever before.”
Prior to receiving the 2018 SAFER grant, the SFD was able to meet the NFPA 1720 standard for Assembly of a Firefighting Force 41% of the time. With SAFER staffing, the SFD has improved that statistic to 100%. “That is a direct correlation to the increase in staffing provided through SAFER,” said Tull.
The grant allowed the SFD to hire the new employees in February 2022. The SAFER Grant hires are Brittany Bennett, Andrew Bradley, Michael Chubb, Tyler Fairman, John Foraker, Allison Hammel, Chase Harding, Aspyn Krauss, Jeremy Mumford, Seth Tayman, Austin White, and Jake Wood.
The 12 SAFER employees from 2018 are all now full-time employees with the City.
In addition to the new hires, the Salisbury Fire Department has selected nine team members for promotion: Christopher L. Truitt (Captain to Assistant Chief), Andrew LeCates (Sergeant/EMT to Lieutenant), Donald Messick (Sergeant/PM to Lieutenant), Thomas Moore (Sergeant/PM to Lieutenant), and Ronald Wismer (Sergeant/PM to Lieutenant), Edward Evans (Driver Operator/PM to Sergeant/PM), Dwayne Gray (Driver Operator/EMT to Sergeant/EMT), Michael Ozman (Driver Operator/EMT to Sergeant/EMT), and Brandon Records (Driver Operator/EMT to Sergeant/EMT).