Collinsville FD SAFER Award
This news is a few weeks old...
Fed funds allow city to hire more firefighters
By Chris Coates
Wednesday, October 8, 2008 3:17 AM CDT
The city has received more than a half-million dollars in federal funding to hire more firefighters.
The $527,125 came through the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant.
Fire Chief Peter Stehman said the department staff applied for the money in August 2007 and were so confident they would receive funding, they made some initial hires before getting official word about the award.
"On a leap of faith, we made hires in June," he said.
Four additional staffers were hired and an assistant chief will be added in the next two months, he said. The new personnel will bring the department's roster to 34.
The merit-based grant is for four years and will pay for a portion of the staff's payroll: 90 percent the first year, 80 percent during year two, 50 percent for the third year and 30 percent for the fourth. The city will chip in the rest.
Stehman said the funding is vital to making sure the department has enough staff to take care of fires and emergencies during all hours, especially big cases that demand lots of help early on, when the most firefighters are needed.
"It takes a big manpower commitment on the front of the incident," he said Monday, when U.S. Rep. John M. Shimkus (R-Collinsville) announced the funding during a morning ceremony.
Collinsville Mayor John Miller, a retired firefighter, said he recalls numerous incidents when the department was understaffed.
Arriving at emergencies with too few firefighters, he said, "there's not a whole lot you can do."
"But this will improve our safety," he said.
Edwardsville recently received a similar federal grant, for $316,275. The Granite City Fire Department was awarded a $310,500 grant in 2006.
The funding is through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
CHRIS COATES PHOTO Outside Collinsville Fire Station No. 1 on Monday are (from left) Collinsville City Manager Robert Knabel, Mayor John Miller, U.S. Rep. John Shimkus (R-Collinsville), Fire Chief Peter Stehman and City Council members Nancy Moss and Lisa Ciampoli. The city has received federal funding to hire more firefighters.