FRONT ROYAL - Warren County Fire and Rescue Services hopes to gain 15 new full-time positions through a FEMA grant that would help fulfill the department’s 5-year staffing plan.
The grant, Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER), aims to help departments maintain the number of firefighters in their communities based on standards set by the National Fire Protection Association, according to county General Services Director Brandy Rosser.
Rosser said this year’s SAFER grant will provide about $350 million in funding to about 300 localities, and the county will either get the full amount of requested staff or nothing.
If Fire and Rescue Services receives the grant, the county must provide $234,679 during the first two years and $610,166 in the third. After that, the county would take over complete funding in the amount of $938,717 annually.
If the funding is awarded, the new positions should be implemented in July.
The grant would cover the salaries and benefits for each firefighter, which comes out to about $62,500 per position. Rosser said that figure is based on the highest possible insurance costs, so the amount may decrease.
She said the additional firefighters would be assigned to stations based on Fire and Rescue Service’s recently presented 5-year staffing plan that aims to have at least 15 staff within nine minutes of fires for 90 percent of calls.
According to previous reports, that staffing plan calls for the addition of 26 career staffers by 2025 at estimated costs between $4.7 and $5.5 million. Components of the plan include adding six career staff at the Rivermont Volunteer Fire station, two positions per shift at the Front Royal station and one position per shift at North Warren.
Fire Chief Richard Mabie previously noted that three county stations are completely volunteer-based while the remaining five have at least two career staff at all times. He said career staff is vital to combat a downturn in volunteerism.
Supervisors Chairman Dan Murray said the grant “is a great thing” and “if we can get it, it will really help.”
Mabie said he has spoken to the chiefs at each station regarding the possibility of the grant and “they were pretty ecstatic about it."