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$1.1M Homeland Security Grant Will Boost Fire Department Ranks

Special to The Advocate

 

Mayor Brian M. Arrigo announced this week that the Revere Fire Department has been awarded a $1.1 Million SAFER Grant by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant will help the fire department increase its compliment from 102 to 106 fire fighters in the current fiscal year.

“This is tremendous news,” said Mayor Brian M. Arrigo.  “We made it a priority in crafting the municipal budget to strengthen public safety at all levels, and this grant bodes well for the fire department.   This funding will help us continue to decrease the number of days that fire apparatus is out of service due to staffing issues.”

Mayor Arrigo cited fire department statistics that enumerate the downward trend of out-of-service days to a four-year low of 380 in 2017, a better than 50 per cent improvement from the earlier years.  The Mayor envisions a day soon where so-called “brown-outs” will be at a minimum.  “We’re hoping that toward the end of 2019, the Department will be at full compliment, and manpower shortages will no longer be a reason that apparatus will be out of service.  Brown-outs will be much more manageable as they will relate to training or apparatus maintenance, but not manpower.  This grant goes a long way toward helping us fulfill that goal.”

Fire Chief Chris Bright echoed the Mayor’s sentiments.  “We are currently budgeted for 106 firefighter positions, but long-term injuries and three pending retirements make this Grant especially important.   In September we’re hiring 7 new fire fighters, we’ve got seven more starting the fire academy in October and they should be ready for deployment by December.  Our goal is to make ‘brown-outs’ a rarity.”

Mayor Arrigo has his sights set on the full 106 fire-fighter force.  “The City’s Human Resources department is working now with the fire department to re-fill the reserve list and position us to reach the 106 figure.  That’s our goal, and we fully aim to accomplish that in the foreseeable future.”

“It’s a process,” said Chief Bright.  “There is a lag time in the hiring as we get candidates onto the reserve list, and then we need to get them into slots at the fire academy for training before they are ready for active fire duty.”

The Homeland Security SAFER Grant program was created to give fire departments support in meeting community needs.  “We are fortunate that our Congressional delegation, including Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren and Congresswoman Katherine Clark, appreciate the financial burdens that modern-day public safety imposes on communities.  Equipment is expensive, manpower is expensive, and communities strive to meet their needs.  Federal assistance such as the SAFER Grant program is invaluable.”

Chief Bright praised the members of his staff that prepared the detailed SAFER Grant application.  “They deserve a ‘shout out'” said the Chief, who singled out fire Captain Mike Bowden, his Administrative Assistant Paula Sarcia, and Sarah White, statistician with the Metro North Regional Emergency Communications Center.  “As you can imagine, the work in filling out the Grant application requires detail and documented support, and I can’t say enough about our team’s effort.  That’s the reason for our success.”

As the City continues to grow, Mayor Arrigo has persisted in his call for public safety enhancements.  “I share Chief Bright’s hope that the current feasibility study will clear the way for the City to bond for the demolition and reconstruction of the Alden A. Mills Fire Station in the Point of Pines.  Looking toward the future, the Revere will continue to seek the monies available in federal staffing grants.  We are blessed in Revere with dedicated and outstanding fire department geared for the demands of our growing city.  When public safety is a priority, and we can meet our expectations in public safety, then every resident of our City benefits.”

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