Mayor Tom Henry today announced the Fort Wayne Fire Department will hire 15 new firefighters. Ten of the new firefighters are a result of the City of Fort Wayne receiving a $1.4 million Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant from the federal government.
Mayor Henry visited Fire Station 9 on Pontiac Street in southeast Fort Wayne and was joined by Fire Chief Eric Lahey and Public Safety Director Rusty York to make the announcement.
SAFER Grants were created to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help increase the number of trained, front-line firefighters available in their communities. The grant received by the City will cover salaries and benefits for 10 new firefighters for two years. Salaries and benefits will then be part of the City budget at the completion of the two years. The additional five new firefighters would be part of the City’s 2016 budget.
The additional firefighters will enhance the fire department’s level of service by ensuring four firefighters are on a fire apparatus/equipment at all times and fill positions that are vacated through anticipated and unanticipated retirements.
“Public safety is a top priority as we work together to ensure the City of Fort Wayne is as safe as possible for residents and businesses,” said Mayor Henry. “We’re fortunate to be in position to increase the number of firefighters we have to meet the needs of our community. Under Chief Lahey’s leadership, the Fort Wayne Fire Department is a leader in making a meaningful difference for all of us. We continue to be committed to building on the positive momentum we’re experiencing in our City.”
“We’re looking forward to adding firefighters to serve and protect our community,” said Chief Lahey. “The Fort Wayne Fire Department is committed to making a positive difference. As a department, we’re passionate about providing excellent services and being accessible to the public.”
It’s anticipated the fire academy class would begin in spring 2016. Currently, there are 343 firefighters with the Fort Wayne Fire Department.
In less than 15 years, the City has grown from 65 square miles to more than 110 square miles. The Fort Wayne Fire Department is responsible for the second largest land mass in Indiana as well as infrastructure critical to the entire region. Adding firefighters will result in optimal response and protection capabilities during the more than 18,000 runs encountered annually by the department.