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Source: The Kokomo Tribune

Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

June 25, 2010

Kokomo will rehire 13 firefighters

$1.9 million federal grant will cover employment costs for two years

By KEN de la BASTIDE
Tribune enterprise editor

Kokomo — The city of Kokomo has received a $1.9 million federal grant that will allow the fire department to rehire 13 firefighters.

The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant was

announced Friday by Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-2nd District. Funding for the SAFER grant program comes through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which Donnelly supported in February 2009.

“I’m happy the Kokomo Fire Department will be able to put 13 more brave firefighters back to work protecting the community,” Donnelly said. “This is a perfect example of the ongoing investments in our Hoosier work force made by the Recovery Act. Not only are these funds putting people back to work, they are investing in the Kokomo community and making it a safer place to live.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency administers the funding directly to fire departments to rehire laid-off firefighters or to fill positions that were left vacant due to economic challenges faced by local governments between January 1, 2008, and October 31, 2009. Kokomo laid off 12 firefighters as a cost-cutting measure in May 2009.

Rick Daily, president of Firefighters Local 396, said the grant is good news for firefighters and city residents.

“This is about firefighters and safety of the community,” Daily said.

He said the Kokomo Fire Department is currently staffed with 103 firefighters with 10 additional firefighters remaining on layoff. Daily said, with the grant funding, the city could increase the size of the department.

Daily said he was unsure when the firefighters would return to work because the city was awaiting the guidelines from the federal government.

SAFER grants directly fund fire departments to help them increase the number of trained, “front-line” firefighters available in their communities. The grant will cover 100 percent of the costs to rehire 13 firefighters for two years.

By accepting the federal funding, the city of Kokomo agreed to provide the funding for a third year of employment.

“Securing the SAFER grant results in the largest increase in public safety in recent history,” said Kokomo Fire Chief Pat O’Neill. “This program will enable me to better utilize my work force.”

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