A plan to pass the grant program, Staff Adequate Fire and Emergency Response is moving forth thanks to Senators Gary Peters, and Susan Collins.
SAFER would help local fire departments including Northeast Michigan’s very own save money and hire already trained first responders to move up to full time who already work as on call, volunteer, or part time fire fighters.
Under current law fire departments can only use SAFER grants to hire new people instead of using the in house part timers they already have.
“If we have paid on call firefighters; we have part time firefighters that have been fully trained and they are apart of that department. If an organization is able to win a SAFER Grant to hire additional full time people they should be able to hire their own people who are already working as part time firefighters,” Peters said.
Right now Peters is trying to move the proposed amendment forth to make sure the SAFER Grant is set in stone and ready to go before 2018.
“We just have to move the Legislation forward through the Senate and I don’t see any major road blocks and I’m hoping within the next few months this will be signed into law, and we can make sure that fire departments across Michigan have the opportunity to hire full time firefighters and really, really, use folks that are already in the department as part time or paid on call,” Peters explained.
Peters said the proposal would benefit all departments including Alpena’s.
“At least hearing from fire chiefs across the state of Michigan, they believe that this will be a tremendous benefit to their individual departments,” Peters said.
Alpena City Fire Department Chief, Bill Forbush said quote: “This is a commonsense step to improve public safety and reduce cost for fire departments like ours.” end quote.