UPDATE: Chattanooga Fire Dept. adding 14 new positions thanks to federal grant
The grant will help fund 14 new positions for the Chattanooga Fire Department.
UPDATE: A FEMA grant of $1,840,356 will allow the city of Chattanooga to add 14 new firefighters.
The grant called Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) will allow increased staffing on the Chattanooga Fire Department squads and quick response vehicles.
City Councilman Chip Henderson, who is also chairman of the council's safety committee, said it's a step in the right direction. "This fills a void that the council took a hard look at this budget year," said Henderson. "This will enhance the quality of protection that our residents will receive through the addition of these 14 firefighters."
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 that 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% of them were for medical emergencies.
In February, 2016, the fire department started a new pilot program designed to enhance responses to medical emergencies.
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.
PREVIOUS STORY: The City of Chattanooga will benefit from a federal grant, called Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) as part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The grant will help fund 14 new positions that are said "to enhance safety and efficient response," according to a news release from the city.
It's not known if the positions will be firefighters, but FEMA's website explains that the SAFER grants were "created to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations in order to help them increase the number of trained, "front line" firefighters available in their communities."
A news conference has been scheduled for 1:15pm Thursday