In addition to insurance, the state also offers scholarships and a pension plan for volunteers.
There will be six additional firefighters hired in Foley, Ala., thanks to the SAFER award of $600,000, said Chief James Hinton.
The additional personnel also will bring their engine crews into compliance with NFPA. Currently, seven career and 34 volunteers out of three stations handle emergencies in 112 square miles.
Firefighters with Romeoville Fire Department have a unique first due area as they handle emergencies on waterways, an airport and a refinery. They will be using the $300,000 SAFER grant to hire three people, said Assistant Chief Mike Flaherty.
The addition personnel will boost the number of people per shift, Flaherty said, adding that the number of responses keeps increasing as their community grows.
Eastside Fire/Rescue will be adding to its retention program with its $68,000 award, said John Murphy, deputy fire chief.
The combination department located in Issaquash, outside of Seattle, has a diverse running area. Volunteers, who are required to attend about 35 drills annually, are paid minimum wage for their time.
Murphy said the volunteers are essential to the department, and the federal money will help insure they are properly trained.
President Bush last month signed the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act that contains $110 million in SAFER funds for FY 2006 $45 million more than in FY 2005.
At the same time, appropriations for FIRE grants was lessened. While $650 million was authorized FY '05, only $545 has been set aside next year.
Departments winning federal assistance for hiring are expected to pick up the entire tab after four years. It requires a financial commitment in the first four years. During the first year, the grant pays 90 percent of the costs of a firefighter