Banks County Fire/EMS receives $1.4M SAFER grant to add... |
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Thursday December 3rd, 2020 12:59AM

Banks County Fire/EMS receives $1.4M SAFER grant to add 6 personnel

By Rob Moore Reporter
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凯发k8地址homeR – Banks County Fire/EMS will be able to add six personnel this month thanks to a federal staffing grant.

“We were very fortunate this year,” said Banks County Fire/EMS Chief Steve Nichols. “We applied for a grant for six additional personnel and we received the grant. The total grant, which covers 75% of the first two years and 35% of the third year of their salaries and their benefits, is about $1.4 million.”

The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant is a program administered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help rural departments keep pace with staffing needs.

“Currently, we’re running 12 people per day so if we add two additional personnel per shift each day, it increases our firefighting and our EMS capabilities greatly for the citizens of the community,” Nichols said. “It would be two additional each day. We run three different shifts.”

Nichols said Banks County has hired the personnel and hopes to have them on the job this month.

“They are working notices and we are waiting on FEMA approval to go ahead,” Nichols said. “We are shooting for Dec. 15 to finish.”

Current plans call for the new personnel to go to the new Station 25 near Baldwin when it is completed. The positions will join the two paid personnel already at Station 21 in Hollingsworth, who will be relocated to the new station when it opens. That station will include an ambulance, fire engine and a ladder truck.

Nichols said the additional personnel are needed for the growing county and the additional call volume the department is experiencing.

“A firefighter/medic, at our current salary range with benefits added to it, is $78,970 a year,” Nichols said. “That brings six paramedic/firefighters to us currently with benefits at $473,892 a year.”

Nichols provided a breakdown of the cost savings the grant will bring to county taxpayers.

“The first year of this grant, the six additional personnel will cost us $118,000 in place of the $473,000,” Nichols said. “The second year is the same amount. The third year with the 35% that we’ll receive it would be $307,000, which would give us a total for all three years of $544,000 for these personnel. The grant amount that we’ll receive will be $876,000, so pretty much you see most of the salaries are paid for six personnel for three years.”

SAFER grants were created to provide funding directly to fire department and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help them increase or maintain the number of trained front line firefighters available to the community.

“Those are very competitive grants,” Nichols said. “We have been trying for three years now for a SAFER grant. They’re hard to come by.”

Banks County Fire/EMS is one of about 2,500 agencies in the nation to receive the grant and one of about 25 in Georgia, Nichols said.

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