Chief Seeks Federal Grant For 3 More Firefighters

Published: Jun 20, 2005

PORT RICHEY - The city's fire department wants to add three firefighters with the help of federal funding.
Chief Tim Fussell plans to apply for a Department of Homeland Security grant that will help pay for the additional firefighters.

Fussell said the city's expected growth over the next few years will increase demand on his department. The three new firefighters would increase the department from six people and Fussell to nine people and the chief.

``The development that's coming in the next couple of years, if it's all approved, is going to double the population of the city,'' Fussell said. ``This is a good way to boost the fire department without having to pay for it all at one time.''

The grant could pay as much as $300,000. For the first year, the grant will pay 90 percent of an employee's salary, up to $36,000 per worker. In the second year, it will pay 80 percent, or up to $32,000 per firefighter. The third year covers 50 percent or up to $20,000, and the fourth year 30 percent or up to $12,000.

Overall, the city would have to pitch in about $177,000 for the first four years, Fussell said.

In the fifth year, the city would have to cover the entire cost per firefighter, about $40,000 per person.

The department's current annual budget is $410,000. Firefighters respond to about 970 calls a year, most of them medical calls.

Reporter Monica Scandlen can be reached at (727) 815-1084.