Wilmington Fire Department seeks grant money to stay afloat

The Wilmington Fire Department is seeking $2.2 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in order to keep 13 firefighters on the job.

Thursday night Wilmington Fire Chief Willie Patrick discussed the Department’s need to obtain the 2012 SAFER Grant. Wilmington City Council’s Public Safety Committee already approved the Department’s application for the grant but now it’s up to FEMA to decide if Wilmington really needs the money. Right now 13 of the city’s 173 firefighters are funded through the SAFER grant which was awarded to the WFD in 2010.  In fact, it also provided helped financially in 2011 when the fire department was able to rehire eight firefighters who were laid off due to budget cuts and to fill five vacancies as a result of attrition.

“The City of Wilmington was fortunate to be selected as a grant award recipient for 2010. Receiving a 2012 SAFER grant would not only allow the Fire Department to maintain current staffing levels-it would obviously have a positive impact on the City’s operating budget as well,” said Chief Willie Patrick.

According to city officials, failure to obtain another SAFER Grant would force them to deal with increased personnel costs if the city chooses to keep the 13 firefighters employed. September 30th is when FEMA will announce its 2012 SAFER Grant award recipients.

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