Federal funding supports hiring of new firefighters
Congressman Brian Higgins and City of Lackawanna Mayor Geoff Szymanski announced a federal grant totaling $536,324 for the Lackawanna Fire Department. The funding is provided through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program.
"This fire grant will provide the City of Lackawanna with additional resources to assist with recruitment and retention efforts, ultimately strengthening the response to emergency situations," Higgins said.
Szymanski added, "This funding will allow the city to upgrade fire staffing levels while keeping overtime costs down, which reduces costs and improves safety."
The Lackawanna Fire Department operates out of three firehouses and response to approximately 3,000 emergency medical and fire calls annually.
City of Lackawanna Fire Chief Ralph Galanti said the federal funding will be used to add four new firefighters to the 46-member department. He also thanked Higgins for his avid support of the federal fire grant program. "It's amazing what we've been able to do in a few short years, and it wouldn't have been possible without this funding. We have received $2.3 million in federal fire grant support since 2005."
Lackawanna also received a SAFER grant totaling $458,752 in 2012, and has been awarded a number of additional federal fire grants, including $11,905 toward the purchase of electronic accountability monitors announced earlier this year.
The SAFER grant was created to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter organizations to help increase or maintain the number of trained "frontline" firefighters available in communities. The goal is to enhance the local fire departments' abilities to comply with staffing, response and operational standards established by the National Fire Protection Association. This year, Congress appropriated $340 million for the SAFER Program.
Higgins said, "Federal fire grants are highly competitive and awarded based on rankings by a committee of peers who work in the firefighting field. This significant award demonstrates true leadership by the City of Lackawanna in their ability to put together a quality application and outline a solid plan for the implementation of federal resources."