Grant will give city 4 new firemen
The Russellville fire department will soon be more staffed than it's ever been before thanks in part to a federal program, which will help pay salary expenses for the addition of four new firefighters.
The city voted to hire personnel with funding from a federal program called SAFER, which pays portions of the firefighter's salary over a period of five years.
In the first year, the grant will provide 90-percent of the new firefighter's salary and benefit expense. That drops to 80 percent in year two, 50 percent in year three, thirty percent in year four and zero in year five.
Russellville Fire Chief Joe Mansell said in the fifth year, the city will have to pay the full salaries of the four new hires for that year, after which the city has the option to retain or dismiss the four firefighters from the department.
"The grant funding is graduated so that the city can get used to the additional salaries," he said. "Some things may have to be shuffled a little budget-wise from year to year but since the city only takes on part of the salary a little at a time, it gives us a chance to get used to it."
Mansell said their intent is to keep the additional four on staff once the five-year period is complete.
"The way the city has grown, we can se there's going to be a need for more firemen," he said. "This just gets us ready. It gets staffing in place that we know were going to need."
The SAFER program will also be used to bring the fire department up to federal standards, including insuring that four firefighters are on a truck during a call, Mansell said.
In the meantime, the department is looking to fill two existing openings vacated by the resignations of Shane Mansell and Robert Martin.
Martin will rejoin the Sheffield Fire Department and Mansell is pursuing other interests.