RI Nets $17.776M Federal Grant to Help Fund Hiring Of 95 Firefighters

By Carmen Russo

RI Nets $17.776M Federal Grant to Help Fund Hiring Of 95 Firefighters
Over $15M for Providence to fund hiring of 80 firefighters & $2.76M to help Cranston
fill 15 firefighter positions

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S.
Representatives Jim Langevin and David Cicilline today joined with Providence Mayor
Jorge O. Elorza and Cranston Mayor Allan Fung to announce $17,776,750 in federal
funding to help Providence and Cranston hire and train new firefighters. This
direct federal assistance, provided through the competitive Staffing for Adequate
Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program, will help fill a total of 95
firefighter positions that were vacated due to normal attrition in the department
and not backfilled due to economic hardship.

Providence will use the $15,011,440 federal SAFER grant to train and hire eighty
firefighters across the department and support the upcoming academy.

Cranston will use its $2,765,310 federal SAFER award to fund 15 firefighter
positions. The Cranston Fire Department responds to an average of 15,000 calls per
year and was also awarded a $119,000 federal grant last month to purchase new
emergency cardiac equipment.

The additional firefighters in both departments should help improve response time,
reduce the number of line-of-duty injuries, and enhance safety for both citizens and
firefighters.

«Our firefighters do a terrific job and this federal staffing grant will help hire
more frontline firefighters and enhance public safety while easing budget
constraints. This grant comes at a critical moment and will help Providence and
Cranston boost staffing levels,» said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a senior member of the
Appropriations Committee who leads an annual fire grant workshop to help fire
departments across the state apply for similar competitive federal assistance. «I
commend both Mayor Elorza and Mayor Fung and their teams for successfully competing
for these grants. I spoke with FEMA and am pleased that Providence is receiving the
largest SAFER award being made nationwide this year.»

«Providence and Cranston are home to two of our state’s busiest fire departments,»
said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. «With many competing demands on local
budgets, this federal funding will provide a major injection of funds to help ensure
the Departments can swiftly and effectively respond to the many thousands of calls
for assistance they get each year. I commend the cities of Providence and Cranston
on building strong applications that have brought this significant funding to Rhode
Island.»

«This SAFER award will be a tremendous boost to the Providence and Cranston fire
departments, whose firefighters work so hard to protect our communities every day,»
said Congressman Jim Langevin. «These funds will bring dozens of new firefighters
into the departments, easing fiscal and personnel burdens and helping to ensure
public safety. I am proud that Rhode Island continues to be so successful in
competing for these much-needed federal resources.»

«Having a well-trained and fully staffed Fire Department allows all Rhode Islanders
to sleep soundly at night,» said Congressman David Cicilline. «This critical funding
allows Providence and Cranston to hire and train almost 100 new firefighters,
helping to protect our families through faster response times as well as the lives
of our firefighters who have long borne the brunt of overstretched municipal fire
departments.»

«I thank the entire Rhode Island congressional delegation for their support in
securing this significant federal grant and for their tireless efforts on behalf of
Providence,» said Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza. «This SAFER grant will help provide
critical budget support to train and hire 80 firefighters across the city, helping
to make every neighborhood stronger and more vibrant.»

«I am grateful for the efforts of Rhode Island’s Senior U.S. Senator, Jack Reed in
helping to secure this grant award and for the support of our entire Congressional
delegation,» stated Cranston Mayor Allan Fung. «As Mayor of Rhode Island’s third
largest city, I am deeply committed to ensuring the highest quality services for
Cranston residents and nothing is more important than ensuring the public health and
safety. The addition of fifteen firefighters funded by this grant will allow us to
meet the needs of our community without increasing the burden on our taxpayers. For
the second consecutive year, Cranston has been named one of America’s 50 Best Cities
to Live and this SAFER grant will help maintain our excellent quality of life at an
affordable cost. I am also very grateful for the hard work of our Fire Chief,
William McKenna, Assistant Chief, Bernard Patenaude, and their staff for
successfully completing the application process for this highly competitive grant
program, and most of all for the firefighters whose service benefits all resident of
the City of Cranston.»

SAFER funding is a competitive grant program that is administered by the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in
cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration. The federal grants cover the cost of
these new hires for the next two years.

The delegation worked to provide a $340 million appropriation for SAFER grants
nationwide to make these awards possible.

Since 2005, Rhode Island fire departments and other first responders have won over
$30 million in federal SAFER awards.