New $2.6M SAFER Grant to Help Cranston Fire Department Fill the Ranks

Sep 17, 2019 Issues: Rhode Island

WASHINGTON - In an effort to increase staffing levels at the Cranston Fire Department and decrease emergency response times, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressman Jim Langevin today joined Mayor Allan Fung in announcing $2,673,657 to help Cranston hire 15 new firefighters.

The federal funds are being awarded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant program.  The federal funds will pay about 75 percent of the annual cost of 15 full-time firefighters for two years and 35 percent of the cost in the third year.

Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation helped include $350 million for SAFER firefighter hiring and retention grants in the 2019 Appropriations law.

“This is great news for Cranston and a smart investment in the community.  These federal funds will increase manpower at the Cranston Fire Department and ensure it is well-staffed and well-equipped.  Adding these additional firefighters will improve the level of service and public safety,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee.  “I will continue doing everything I can at the federal level to help our dedicated firefighters protect our communities and improve emergency response capabilities.”

“Ensuring that fire departments are fully staffed is vital to protecting first responders and the residents they serve,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “I commend Mayor Fung and the Cranston Fire Department for winning this major federal grant that will allow the City to bring fifteen new firefighters on board.”

“Federal funding for hiring new firefighters will strengthen the Cranston Fire Department’s emergency response capabilities and improve public safety,” said Congressman Langevin, a senior member of the Committee on Homeland Security, which oversees FEMA. “I was proud to support Cranston’s application, and I congratulate the Department on winning this competitive award. It is critical that we keep working to ensure our local fire departments have the personnel they need to safeguard our communities.”

“I would like to thank Senator Reed, Senator Whitehouse, and the rest of the congressional delegation for their continued support in obtaining this SAFER grant to assist in the hiring of 15 new firefighters. This investment in Cranston will allow us to fill currently vacant positions and reduce overtime costs while continuing to serve the residents of Cranston,” said Mayor Fung.  “The dedication of our federal delegation in securing this funding allows the City of Cranston to provide the highest level of public safety with significant financial assistance.  This is another example of the importance of partnerships between the federal and local government making a difference in the lives of all Rhode Islanders.”

The SAFER grant is meant to help local fire departments comply with staffing, response, and operational standards established by the National Fire Protection Association.  According to  NFPA standards and guidelines, at least four firefighters should be on the scene when responding to a fire.

The Cranston Fire Department serves approximately 80,000 people, and in 2018, responded to over 16,750 calls.  This federal funding will allow the Department to bring its current staffing up to full levels in order to maintain their services, reduce the costs of overtime, and offer relief to those firefighters currently working overtime to make up for the reduction in manpower. 

Rhode Island fire departments and other first responders across the state have successfully secured over $45 million since 2005 in SAFER awards to help hire new firefighters.