San Jose Fire Department Recieves Grant to Fund New Firefighters

By: Sophia Silletto - Sat, 14 Jul 2012 18:35:42 -0800

SAN JOSE (BCN) -- Fire department officials joined San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and Congressman Mike Honda on Friday to announce the procurement of an $8.6 million federal grant with which the city will hire 27 new firefighters.
     
The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant will also allow the department to ease its policy of "browning out," the shutting down of equipment and shuffling around of personnel that helps the city avoid paying overtime, fire department spokeswoman Capt. Mary Gutierrez said.
     
"This is really good news...we're nowhere near where we should be, but every little bit helps," Reed said.
     
According to Reed, San Jose has fewer fire fighters now than it did ten years ago, even though the city has grown.
     
In fact, San Jose Fire Chief William McDonald noted, San Jose has the least firefighters among the 25 largest cities in the country.
     
Newly hired fire recruits are scheduled to begin an 18-week training academy in October and will start in February 2013. By that time, the city will have about 185 firefighters working on a given day, 9 more than the current 176.
     
In a statement Friday, Lofgren lauded the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration for its cooperation in helping San Jose meet the requirements necessary to accept the grant, one of which is abstaining from layoffs.
     
According to McDonald, in 2011, San Jose fire fighters took a 10 percent pay cut to prevent such a layoff that threatened the jobs of about 70 firefighters.
     
McDonald said of the grant, "It's a great way to end the week."
 
(Copyright 2012, Bay City News. All Rights Reserved)
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