City of Saginaw MI -
SAGINAW RECEIVES FIRE SAFER GRANT DENIAL NOTICE FROM FEMA

The City of Saginaw has received notification from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that the application for the Staffing for Adequate Fire Emergency Response (SAFER) grant has been denied. This most recent application was for a total award amount of $2.5 million. The 2016 SAFER Program was focused on hiring new firefighters to increase firefighter numbers versus previous SAFER grant years that provided funding for the retention of current firefighters.

With the elimination of 13 full-time positions, the fire department personnel deployment plan will be modified and restructuring will occur. The loss of the grant will bring the department’s current staff of 51 down to 38 by January 2018. This is a 25% reduction in current levels.

Fire Chief Chris Van Loo said that the news of not receiving the SAFER grant was disappointing, but not wholly unexpected. The application was the third that Saginaw has made to FEMA for the SAFER grant, having previously been awarded twice. Though our grant application scored above average during the review process, it did not fall in line with the priorities of the 2016 SAFER Grant Program. The Fire Department Command Staff has been planning for these reductions for several years now and has developed plans to redistribute the remaining staffing.

"FEMA has approved an extension of our current 2014 SAFER grant. The period of performance was initially set to expire on September 17, 2017, however they have approved our request to extend the period of performance until January 31, 2018. After that time, we will implement a new reduced staffing model. The reduction of staffing will provide for 10 firefighters on duty 24 hours a day at three stations, however we are taking steps to limit the impact on the community. The safety of our citizens and our firefighters will remain our top priority." –Chris Van Loo, Fire Chief

City Manager Tim Morales stated that, "The grant denial is unfortunate, however we have the utmost confidence in the Saginaw Fire Department’s skills and abilities to deal with the staff reduction and still provide excellent service. Our firefighters are true professionals; the Chief and Command staff have been planning to deal with the possible loss of grant funding for some time, and have developed the best possible plan."

Notifications to the affected firefighters have been sent as of September 29, 2017. Additional details regarding the restructuring of Fire Department staffing will be presented at an upcoming Council meeting once details are finalized. For more information, please contact Chris Van Loo, Fire Chief, at 989 759-1375.

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