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WFD to Add 20 New Firefighters With $6.3M SAFER Grant

Warwick Fire Department HQ on Veterans Memorial Parkway.

WARWICK, RI  — The Warwick Fire Department plans to hire 20 new firefighters after being awarded a $6.3 million federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant.

On Thursday, U.S. Senator Jack Reed and Congressmen Jim Langevin joined Mayor Frank Picozzi, Fire Chief Peter K. McMichael, and other officials including Rhode Island House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi — to celebrate $6,321,969 in federal funding to help the Warwick Fire Department meet its staffing needs.

The federal funds are being awarded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) SAFER grant program.

Usually, federal SAFER funds pay about 75 percent of the annual cost of full-time firefighters for two years and 35 percent of the cost in the third year.  However, in the wake of COVID-19, FEMA has agreed to waive the cost share for SAFER grant recipients to boost staffing levels and prevent staffing shortages.

The Warwick Fire Department currently has 195 firefighters on staff and nine vacancies from retirements.  This federal funding to hire 20 new firefighters will help ensure that the department is appropriately staffed and maintains operational safety standards, minimizing firefighter fatigue and injuries that can result from longer shifts in under-staffed departments.

“This federal funding is great news for Warwick.  It will add twenty more firefighters to the ranks to enhance public safety.  When there is a fire, accident, or emergency, our firefighters always answer the call.  Their assistance can mean the difference between life and death for the people who need their services.  These federal funds will help ensure the Warwick Fire Department is fully staffed up and ready to go,” said Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee.  “I commend Mayor Picozzi and Chief McMichael for their leadership and diligence on this SAFER grant.  Adding these additional firefighters will help effectively protect the community and improve fire service and emergency response.”

“I’m thrilled to bring home this $6.3 million federal grant, so that the Warwick Fire Department can continue protecting our community and hire 20 additional firefighters,” saidLangevin. “By filling these critical hiring needs, Warwick will become an even safer place to live and work.  I thank the brave women and men of the Warwick Fire Department for their courageous service to our state.”

“I want to thank Senator Reed for consistently advocating for the city of Warwick and his continuous efforts to bolster public safety in our community,” said Picozzi.

“The Warwick Fire Department is extremely grateful to Senator Jack Reed and Congressman Jim Langevin for their hard work and support in securing $6.3 in federal funding.   Their efforts are more important than ever as municipalities struggle with unprecedented cost increases in emergency lifesaving equipment and vehicles,” said McMichael.

SAFER grants are designed to enhance local fire departments’ abilities to comply with 24-hour staffing, response, and operational standards established by the National Fire Protection Association and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and provide adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards.

Over the last twenty years, Rhode Island fire departments and other first responders across the state have received over $126 million in AFG and SAFER awards.

Rob Borkowski
Author: Rob Borkowski

Rob has worked as reporter and editor for several publications, including The Kent County Daily Times and Coventry Courier, before working for Gatehouse in MA then moving home with Patch Media. Now he's publisher and editor of Contact him at [email protected] with tips, press releases, advertising inquiries, and concerns.

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