Detroit Free Press: Peters favors federal funding to promote part-time firefighters
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., introduced legislation today that could help local fire departments promote part-time personnel with federal grant funding rather than being forced to hire new employees and train them.
Peters introduced the legislation along with U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, as a way to help save money and hire and promote first responders who have already been trained. Under current law, fire departments may only use grants under the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program to hire and train new full-time personnel.
“This common sense legislation would give fire departments greater ability to promote trained, experienced firefighters, which will save money and reaffirm the critical role these men and women play in keeping our neighborhoods safe,” said Peters, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which oversees FEMA, the agency that runs the SAFER program.
In the past fiscal year, a handful of communities in Michigan received nearly $20 million in SAFER grant funding to recruit and hire fire and emergency personnel. Among those receiving funds were Flint ($3.8 million), Hamtramck ($2.3 million) and Auburn Hills ($1.2 million). Many other communities across Michigan have received funds in recent years as well.
“While SAFER grants have benefited countless fire departments by providing federal dollars to hire new firefighters, funds were unavailable for departments wishing to convert part-time firefighters to full-time employees. Sen. Peters’ legislation remedies this loophole and will provide Michigan communities a new means to increase the number of firefighters on the job and improve public safety,” said Mark Docherty, president of the Michigan Professional Fire Fighters Union.
By: Todd Spangler
Source: Detroit Free Press
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