Blaine County Volunteer Firefighters Receive Grant
Aug 30, 2012 -
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today announced that the Blaine County Fire Chiefs have been awarded a four year $1.7 million grant. The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant will help recruit and retain volunteer firefighters for Blaine County.
“Fire departments, like many businesses and institutions, have been hit hard during these tough economic times,” said Simpson. “The number of emergency responses has increased in Blaine County placing a strain on fire departments and their volunteers. I’m hopeful this grant will help the County recruit more volunteer firefighters and improve their emergency response capabilities.”
A volunteer firefighter will put in several hundred hours of time between responding to emergencies and training within a year. This grant will allow volunteer firefighters to earn a set amount monthly that can be used for tax deferred benefits such as healthcare insurance, retirement and other benefits. The volunteers will have to maintain a certain level of participation to receive these benefits.
“I was very excited to learn of the grant award for the Recruitment and Retention of Volunteer Firefighter/EMTs,” Wood River Fire & Rescue Chief Bart Lassman said. “In my many years as a Chief of a volunteer fire and rescue department this has been the largest hurdle to overcome and affects service to our citizens. These grant funds will allow us to provide benefits to our existing volunteers and recruit new volunteers through new advertising and media channels.”
The Blaine County Fire Chiefs (BCFC) moved forward applying for this grant last year after being encouraged to try to provide benefits for volunteering. Blaine County fire departments have limited paid staffing in several departments and the need for good dedicated volunteers is very high. There are approximately 145 active volunteers in Blaine County and the BCFC would like to increase that number to over 240 active volunteers by the end of this grant.
The recruitment and retention of additional volunteer firefighters will help protect thousands of citizens. An increase in volunteer firefighters also will support operational needs, providing adequate staffing to ensure timely emergency response capabilities.
SAFER funding is a competitive grant program that is administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration.