Davie fire chief seeks nine more firefighters

$900,000 in funds sought through Homeland grant

By David Volz
Special Correspondent
Posted July 27 2005

Davie Fire Chief Don DiPetrillo wants to hire nine additional firefighters to serve residents in the Shenandoah/Oak Hill area.

But to do so, he needs Town Council approval. He is hoping to help his cause by applying for a $900,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The council approved the application at a recent meeting.

"We need to staff a new fire station, and we need to hire more firefighters," DiPetrillo said. "If we get this grant, it will help us gain the firefighters we need for our growing population."

The grant is a new program aimed at helping fire departments achieve needed staffing levels.

"We will be competing against cities from around the nation, but I think we have as good a chance as any to get the money," he said.

The grant would pay a portion of the salary and benefits for new firefighters hired under the program, DiPetrillo said. Homeland Security pays up to $100,000 per position over five years.

DiPetrillo said a new hire costs the town $85,000 in salary and benefits. After the grant money is used, the positions would have to be paid for from the town's general budget or fire-assessment fees, DiPetrillo said.

The council also approved a grant application for $160,040 from Homeland Security. The grant, which the town would have to match with $40,000 of its own, would buy traffic signal preemption systems for 29 vehicles, DiPetrillo said.

The system works in conjunction with equipment being installed by the county at various traffic lights to ensure they turn or remain green as EMS vehicles approach, he said.

"This new technology will control traffic flow and thereby increase safety for fire and rescue personnel as they respond to emergencies and improve response times," he said.

Davie Fire-Rescue

The Davie Fire-Rescue Department:
Has more than 160 employees - 97 percent are sworn firefighters/paramedics and firefighter/EMTs

Responds to up to 14,000 calls for service each calendar year, including more than 3,000 fire-related and almost 10,000 medical incidents

Provides contract services to the unincorporated area of Pine Island Ridge and the eastern half of Southwest Ranches

Source: Town of Davie's Web site