By MORGAN MANNS
City officials announced Friday that Fostoria has taken another step towards being SAFER.
The Fostoria Fire Division was awarded the 2013 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant Thursday, according to Senator Sherrod Brown’s website.
“I’m just ecstatic,” Fire Chief Keith Loreno said. “We at the fire division truly feel blessed. The grant was a critical component towards our budget this year.”
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website, the primary goal of the SAFER grant is to help fund staffing and deployment capabilities so fire departments may “more effectively respond to emergencies.” It is a two-year grant issued by FEMA, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Grant Programs Directorate (GPD).
The SAFER grant was created in 2003 to provide funding to fire departments and volunteer firefighter organizations to help them “increase or maintain the number of trained, “front line” firefighters available in their communities,” according to the website.
The grant, which is a total of $1,177,488, will solidify eight firefighter positions within the city of Fostoria within a two-year time frame, according to Loreno. This includes their salary and benefits.
“We’re especially proud since this is the second time we have been deemed worthy ambassadors of these funds,” Loreno said.
Fostoria Fire Division previously received the SAFER grant in September of 2010, which ended Sept. 21, 2013. Of the roughly $420 million awarded to nearly 445 different fire departments in the U.S., Fostoria Fire Division received $1.2 million.
This year, the total amount of money being offered is almost $321 million. The projected number of applicants for the 2013 SAFER grant was 2,500, while the projected number of grants awarded for the year was 300, according to FEMA website.
Although the FEMA website was not updated by press time, more than 200 departments/divisions were awarded through round 14. Loreno said the division was selected in round 18.
“I can’t deny we were getting a little nervous,” Loreno said. “As the grant progresses, the amount of money and federal allocations are reduced. But we were able to receive the full amount we requested.”
Loreno said the Fostoria Fire Division is the only full-time based, all-hazards emergency response agency that has specialty equipment which can be made available to any of the surrounding departments upon request.
The Fostoria Fire Division provides around-the-clock fire suppression, technical rescue, emergency medical service (EMS), fire prevention, inspections, fire safety education and fire investigation services to Fostoria and surrounding areas.
As part of Ohio Fire Chiefs’ Association’s Emergency Response Plan, the Fostoria Fire Division can travel anywhere in the state of Ohio to provide fire assistance upon request.
“Firefighters put their lives on the line each day to keep our communities safe,” Brown said in a press release. “These new federal resources will help ensure that Fostoria has the skilled responders and updated resources they need to safely do their jobs.”
The fire division collected more than 1,200 signatures from members of the community and surrounding areas in support of local firefighting personnel, in addition to letters addressed to FEMA from community members supporting the division.
“The biggest thing is, this was truly something that was a community joint venture,” Loreno said. “We had the petition drive that included not only our community but the surrounding community citizens putting in their names to show their support. I can’t stress enough the help they’ve given us or the help from the city, the mayor, the safety service director, and the clergy and the parishioners in the area with putting in their prayers and hopes that we would receive the grant.
“There truly was a lot of great people that worked along with (the division) to get this grant and I couldn’t be more grateful.”