Mayor Tom Henry and Fire Chief Eric Lahey today announced the Fort Wayne Fire Department plans to hire 25 new firefighters to fill vacancies created through retirements. 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.
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 ten new firefighters for three years. Salaries and benefits will then be part of the City budget at the completion of the three years. The additional fifteen new firefighters will be part of the City’s proposed 2019 budget request.
The additional firefighters will enhance the fire department’s level of service by ensuring four firefighters are on a fire apparatus at all times and will be used to fill positions that are vacated through anticipated and unanticipated retirements.
“Providing excellent public safety services to the citizens of Fort Wayne is a top priority, and as our City continues to grow, it is critical that we continue to keep our residents safe and healthy,” said Mayor Henry. “The SAFER grant provides a welcome opportunity to increase the number of firefighters we have. The Fort Wayne Fire Department is an essential component of the outstanding quality of life we enjoy in Fort Wayne.”
“We’re very fortunate to have received a second consecutive award under the SAFER grant,” said Chief Lahey. “The Fort Wayne Fire Department is committed to saving lives and being fiscally responsible. Grant awards like this one help us accomplish that goal. We will continue to identify opportunities like the SAFER grant to make our Fire Department as efficient as possible.”
It’s anticipated the fire academy class would begin in February 2019. Currently, there are 339 firefighters with the Fort Wayne Fire Department.
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 nearly 23,000 runs encountered annually by the department.