Brigid O’Rouke writes:

BOSTON – Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown, together with Congressman James McGovern today announced that the Worcester Fire Department will receive $2,227,378 as part of the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program. The federal funding will enable departments to increase the number of trained, “front line” firefighters that are available in our communities. The Worcester Fire Department will be able to hire 17 new firefighters.

The national program aims to enhance our local fire departments’ abilities to comply with staffing, response and operational standards established by the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“This is a moral issue, pure and simple. Our firefighters put their lives on the line every day and we’ve got a fundamental responsibility to keep them as safe as possible. This investment will allow Chief Gerard Dio to enhance the department’s ability to respond to emergency situations quickly and effectively,” said Senator Kerry.

“Every day, our hardworking firefighters risk their lives to keep our families and communities safe, and we owe it to them to provide the financial resources to keep them safe in their incredibly dangerous jobs. This funding is an important step in that direction, and I am pleased our firefighters will soon receive resources that will allow them to better carry out their work,” said Senator Brown.

“This is terrific – and timely – news for Worcester,” Rep. McGovern said. “I believe that homeland security starts with hometown security. And given the budget constraints facing the city right now, this federal funding is particularly welcome. I have been, and will continue to be, a strong supporter of the SAFER program.”

“I am most grateful to Sens. Kerry and Brown, Rep. McGovern and Chief Dio of our WFD for their efforts and for their continued leadership on behalf of our great city,” said Worcester City Manager Michael V. O’Brien. “The Worcester Fire Department will now be able to hire 17 new firefighters to be ready to take on their roles by the Fall of 2010, at a time when I expect a wave of firefighter retirements. This would not have been possible without these grant dollars due to continued budget strain. As always, our plan incorporates future retirements to adapt back to our current staffing levels when this funding expires in two years.”

CONTACT: Brigid O’Rourke, 617-565-8252


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