July 13, 2016

RI Nets $17.8M Federal Grant to Help Fund Hiring Of 95 Firefighters

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Representatives Jim Langevin and David Cicilline today joined with Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza and Cranston Mayor Allan Fung to announce $17,776,750 in federal funding to help Providence and Cranston hire and train new firefighters.  This direct federal assistance, provided through the competitive Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program, will help fill a total of 95 firefighter positions that were vacated due to normal attrition in the department and not backfilled due to economic hardship.

Providence will use the $15,011,440 federal SAFER grant to train and hire eighty firefighters across the department and support the upcoming academy.

Cranston will use its $2,765,310 federal SAFER award to fund 15 firefighter positions.  The Cranston Fire Department responds to an average of 15,000 calls per year and was also awarded a $119,000 federal grant last month to purchase new emergency cardiac equipment.

The additional firefighters in both departments should help improve response time, reduce the number of line-of-duty injuries, and enhance safety for both citizens and firefighters.

“Our firefighters do a terrific job and this federal staffing grant will help hire more frontline firefighters and enhance public safety while easing budget constraints.  This grant comes at a critical moment and will help Providence and Cranston boost staffing levels,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee who leads an annual fire grant workshop to help fire departments across the state apply for similar competitive federal assistance.  “I commend both Mayor Elorza and Mayor Fung and their teams for successfully competing for these grants.  I spoke with FEMA and am pleased that Providence is receiving the largest SAFER award being made nationwide this year.”

“Providence and Cranston are home to two of our state’s busiest fire departments,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.  “With many competing demands on local budgets, this federal funding will provide a major injection of funds to help ensure the Departments can swiftly and effectively respond to the many thousands of calls for assistance they get each year.  I commend the cities of Providence and Cranston on building strong applications that have brought this significant funding to Rhode Island.”

“This SAFER award will be a tremendous boost to the Providence and Cranston fire departments, whose firefighters work so hard to protect our communities every day,” said Congressman Jim Langevin.  “These funds will bring dozens of new firefighters into the departments, easing fiscal and personnel burdens and helping to ensure public safety.  I am proud that Rhode Island continues to be so successful in competing for these much-needed federal resources.”

“Having a well-trained and fully staffed Fire Department allows all Rhode Islanders to sleep soundly at night,” said Congressman David Cicilline. “This critical funding allows Providence and Cranston to hire and train almost 100 new firefighters, helping to protect our families through faster response times as well as the lives of our firefighters who have long borne the brunt of overstretched municipal fire departments.”

“I thank the entire Rhode Island congressional delegation for their support in securing this significant federal grant and for their tireless efforts on behalf of Providence,” said Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza. “This SAFER grant will help provide critical budget support to train and hire 80 firefighters across the city, helping to make every neighborhood stronger and more vibrant.”

“I am grateful for the efforts of Rhode Island’s Senior U.S. Senator, Jack Reed in helping to secure this grant award and for the support of our entire Congressional delegation,” stated Cranston Mayor Allan Fung.  “As Mayor of Rhode Island’s third largest city, I am deeply committed to ensuring the highest quality services for Cranston residents and nothing is more important than ensuring the public health and safety.  The addition of fifteen firefighters funded by this grant will allow us to meet the needs of our community without increasing the burden on our taxpayers.  For the second consecutive year, Cranston has been named one of America’s 50 Best Cities to Live and this SAFER grant will help maintain our excellent quality of life at an affordable cost.  I am also very grateful for the hard work of our Fire Chief, William McKenna, Assistant Chief, Bernard Patenaude, and their staff for successfully completing the application process for this highly competitive grant program, and most of all for the firefighters whose service benefits all resident of the City of Cranston.”

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.  The federal grants cover the cost of these new hires for the next two years.

The delegation worked to provide a $340 million appropriation for SAFER grants nationwide to make these awards possible.

Since 2005, Rhode Island fire departments and other first responders have won over $30 million in federal SAFER awards.

Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921