A federal grant will soon allow the Chattanooga Fire Department to hire additional firefighters. The Department of Homeland Security recently notified the department that it has approved an application for $1,840,356 from its Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant fund. The money will allow the department to increase staffing on its squads and dedicate more resources to its Quick Response Vehicles (QRV).
At a news conference in front of Fire Station 19 in Hixson, Mayor Andy Berke said the grant will benefit the fire department and the city as a whole. “Our firefighters work every day to help ensure the safety of our city, not only by saving property and lives from flames, but as first responders to other medical emergencies,” said Mayor Berke. “Having adequate staffing for the QRV system will help increase efficient delivery of a critical city service.”
The SAFER grant will pay the salaries and benefits for the 14 firefighters for a two-year period. After that, Fire Chief Chris Adams said city leaders will have to make a decision to continue the funding. “The city will have two years to see how the economy is doing and where we are with the budget,” said Adams.
The department plans to add the 14 firefighters hired with the SAFER grant to a new academy, which is expected to start in late September.
The Chattanooga Fire Department responded to 17,453 incidents last year, and of those calls, about 48 percent were for medical emergencies. In February of this year, the department started a new pilot program designed to enhance responses to medical emergencies in Chattanooga. Under the new initiative, three Quick Response Vehicles, or QRVs, began responding to medical calls in place of the large fire apparatus, which is what firefighters traditionally use whether responding to a fire, car wreck or medical emergency.
Source: Chattanooga Fire Department