WARWICK, RI – U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Representative Jim Langevin today joined with Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian in announcing a $3.1 million federal grant to help the Warwick Fire Department hire and train up to 17 firefighters.
The federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant will help bring the total number of Warwick’s fire personnel up to 214. Since 2008, several firefighter positions have been vacated as a result of retirements and budget constraints. The SAFER grant will cover the cost of all pay and benefits for the new positions over the next two years. The new firefighters hired with this funding will be assigned to five of the busiest engine companies in Warwick. Last year, the Warwick Fire Department responded to over 16,000 incidents.
“This is great news for Warwick and I congratulate Chief Armstrong and his team and Mayor Avedisian. We call on our firefighters in moments of crisis and they always answer that call. The hiring of additional firefighters will improve emergency response capabilities. Ensuring the Warwick Fire Department can maintain appropriate staffing levels will also help save money in the long-run by reducing overtime costs,” said Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee, who wrote the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in support of Warwick’s application.
“A fire department’s greatest asset is skilled frontline firefighters,” said Whitehouse. “At a time when many towns and cities are facing layoffs and cutbacks in critical services, this funding will help Warwick create good jobs and improve public safety.”
“At a time when our cities and town are facing major fiscal constraints, this funding will be critical to ensuring the Warwick Fire Department has the resources to respond to emergency situations,” said Langevin. “As we face difficult decisions about the makeup of the federal budget, our first responders must be a top priority.”
“The City of Warwick is thankful to Senators Reed and Whitehouse and Congressman Langevin. This grant will enable us to add 17 firefighters, increase public safety, lower overtime, and bring our Fire Department to full strength,” said Mayor Scott Avedisian.
SAFER funding is a competitive grant program that is administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration.
This is the second major federal grant Warwick has received this year. In March the Warwick Fire Department received a $683,451 federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) to purchase a new aerial ladder truck to replace a 23 year old vehicle.