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Federal Grant Would Allow Newport Fire Dept. to Return to Original Staffing

The City of Newport was awarded a federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Responses (SAFER) grant in the amount of $908,238.

The funds are expected to be used for the hiring of three additional firefighters.

The SAFER grant is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The money, if accepted by the deadline of September 20, will fully fund the hiring of the additional firefighters for three full years. The added employees would allow the Newport Fire Department to staff four firefighters on the engine company all day every day, according to Jake Silvati, president of the Newport firefighters union, IAFF LOcal 45.

Silvati said that the three new firefighters would bring the department back to its original staffing level, something that has been a point of contention between the union and city officials.

In announcing the funding, the union thanked City Manager Tom Fromme and the city commission for applying for the grant.

"This grant displays their dedicated to providing adequate staffing by finding other means of revenue sources," an announcement from the union said. "Although the SAFER is not a dedicated revenue stream, it does cover the cost of these three entry level firefighters for three full years. This will allow the city a sufficient amount of time to look for other means of revenue sources to continue to provide the community with adequate protection and safety."

-Staff report

Photo: Newport city building and fire department (RCN file)

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