R.I. fire departments to receive $5.9M from feds to hire 24 firefighters

THREE RHODE ISLAND fire departments have been allocated $5.9 million in federal funds to hire 24 firefighters. /. AP FILE PHOTO/CAROLYN KASTER
THREE RHODE ISLAND fire departments have been allocated $5.9 million in federal funds to hire 24 firefighters. /. AP FILE PHOTO/CAROLYN KASTER

PROVIDENCE – Three Rhode Island fire departments will receive $5.9 million in federal funds to hire 24 new firefighters, the R.I. congressional delegation announced Wednesday.

The funds come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response grant program.

Typically, the SAFER grants program subsidizes firefighter salaries by up to 75% for the first two years, and then 35% for a third year. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, FEMA has waived the cost-share match, covering 100% of the grant without any matching funds, the delegation said.

This round of SAFER grant allocations include:

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  • Portsmouth: $2.2 million in grants to hire eight additional firefighters
  • Woonsocket: $1.9 million to hire eight new firefighters
  • Middletown: $1.8 million to hire eight firefighters

“Our firefighters have been on the front lines of [the] COVID-19 response throughout the pandemic and we must ensure they have the resources, support and staffing levels they need to effectively respond,” Sen. Jack Reed said in a statement. “These federal funds will help ensure fire departments are well-staffed for around the clock staffing coverage and have the flexibility they need to respond to all manners of emergencies.”

The delegation said that Rhode Island fire departments and first responders have received a combined $34.8 million in SAFER grant awards over the last six years.

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