Federal Grant Saves Detroit Firefighters

City will receive $22.5 million from the DHS' Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response program
By, Darren A. Nichols, The Detroit News Published Thursday, June 28, 2012

Detroit - The city has secured a federal grant that will help Detroit retain more than 100 firefighters that were slated to be laid off, officials said Wednesday.

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin announced the city will receive $22.5 million from the Department of Homeland Security's Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response program.

The program aims to help local departments maintain adequate staffing, Levin said in a statement.

"It is vital that we maintain the fire protection our citizens need, even during times of tight budgets," said Levin, D-Detroit. "This grant will help keep firefighters on the job and protecting the people of Detroit."

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing earlier this week announced the city would need to lay off 164 firefighters due to budget constraints. He indicated he hoped the grant would be available to rehire most of those employees.

Dan McNamara, president of the Detroit Fire Fighters Association, called it "tremendous" that Detroit got the maximum amount in the grant to avert some layoffs. The grant is expected to mitigate 108 of the layoffs. Bing has said he hopes the remaining layoffs will be rescinded by attrition.

The city's 2012-13 budget, effective July 1, calls for $250 million in cuts from nearly every city department and slashes 2,600 jobs. It cuts the Fire Department's budget about 13 percent, to about $160 million.

The Fire Department has 1,257 employees, including approximately 881 firefighters and 248 emergency medical technicians. The department responds to 30,000 fire calls annually, plus 135,000 medical calls, according to the city.

"It's wonderful the city and the Fire Department went after these grants," McNamara said. "Congratulations to them and the citizens of Detroit. Everybody that works down there should be proud, very excited and feel better at night."

dnichols@detnews.com

(313) 222-2073

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