Saginaw Fire Department Denied Grant Funds
The City of Saginaw will have fewer fire fighters in the new year after being turned down for $2.5 million in FEMA funds. For the past four years the fire department has been funded in part by SAFER Grant dollars, which run out at the end of January 2018. Fire Chief Chris Van Loo says the funds were set to expire in mid-September, but FEMA agreed to allow the city to spend unused funds, which will take the department through January 31st. He says if there is nothing to replace that money, at least one fire station will close and the department will see the layoff of 13 fire fighters. He says a change in the grant program caused the denial…
“The SAFER program, under the two grants we did receive, which would have been 2013 and 2015 grant cycles, allowed for retention of employees. With the 2016 SAFER, the program changed which no longer provided for retention of employees as it was strictly for hiring new employees or increasing your numbers," Van Loo says.
Van Loo says the city is looking at every avenue to try to make up the money, because the safety of the community is their first priority. He says he plans to apply for grant funds again in December of this year with council approval, but that will be too late to keep the fire station open. Van Loo says although the news was disappointing it wasn’t unexpected. He says the 13 fire fighters were given layoff notices last month in advance of the end of the previous year’s grant money. He says the remaining 38 fire fighters will be spread out throughout the city to make sure all areas are covered, but he expects response times to be affected. The fire station to be closed will be announced after an upcoming meeting with city council.