Feds Award Washington County $8M to Hire More Firefighters

Washington County today announced that its Division of Emergency Services has been awarded an $8,080,776 grant to pay for 33 additional career firefighter positions, which will reduce response times and enhance firefighter and public safety throughout the County. The grant is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program.

“On behalf of the entire Board of County Commissioners for Washington County, MD, I extend our sincere gratitude and appreciation for your efforts to assist our County with a SAFER Grant Award,” said Board of County Commissioners President Jeffrey A. Cline. “Although our County remains strong in its dedicated volunteer workforce, we recognize the demand that today’s society places on them.

The award represents the full cost of entry-level firefighter salaries for the entire three years of the grant. Once the new positions are filled, the Division of Emergency Services will staff 53 full-time and 25 part-time operational career firefighters.

“Today’s family, work, and social environments have created challenges with balancing the needs of emergency responses, fundraising, and administrative duties that are difficult for volunteers, said Cline. “The addition of 33 career firefighters under this Grant represents one of the many steps the Commissioners have taken throughout the years to augment the volunteers’ efforts.”

The grant’s local match requirement was by waived by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) — which will save the County $3 million over the next three years.
According to a County press release:
The grant will provide the opportunity to bring much needed firefighter staffing assistance to our dedicated volunteers. The awarding of the SAFER Grant provides an initial funding mechanism that will allow the Board of County Commissioners to fast track the hiring initiative for up to thirty-three (33) firefighters. The firefighters hired under this grant will place three (3) firefighters on duty each day at four (4) strategically located volunteer fire stations throughout Washington County. The firefighters are intended to help augment our volunteer workforce by ensuring that dedicated staffing is available in various regions throughout the County.
“We are extremely excited to begin this new journey as we work closely with the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association and its member companies to move this process forward,” stated Washington County Division of Emergency Services Director David R. Hays.
The notification of award for the SAFER Grant comes at a critical time, whereas County budgets are extremely tight and challenges to our budgets are many. The funding included in the SAFER Grant will give our County budget a much needed boost, as we continue to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Visit the Washington County website for more information.

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