DAYTON, OH — The City of Dayton decided today not to move forward with the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant application.
The city says the SAFER Grant provides funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help increase or maintain trained firefighters. Last year, Dayton voters approved a charter amendment which would allow the City to apply for the SAFER grant.
IFF Local 136, which represents the city’s firefighters, had recently advocated for the city to apply for the grant, saying it would provide about $3 million, at a time when the city needs to make cuts because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The city says that if the city is approved for the grant, from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, it would require certain staffing levels that would be unfair as other departments are making staff cuts.
“It is disappointing that we are unable to apply for this grant at this time,” said City Manager Shelley Dickstein. “Last year, when we asked voters to approve the charter amendment we had no idea a pandemic would devastate our community and upend our finances. Without a clear picture of what the total impact will be from the COVID-19 depression, it would be unwise to move forward with our application.”
The SAFER grant would have required a staffing level of 197 firefighters for the three-year grant period. While the grant would cover 12 firefighters funded at their first year pay level for three years, an additional eight firefighters would need to be funded from the General Fund along with years two and three salary increases for the grant-funded positions.
The increased cost to the City would average $358,000 per year, or roughly $1.1 million over the mandatory three-year commitment.
“Despite this fiscally challenging time, the Dayton Fire Department remains committed to providing the best possible services to the people we serve,” said Jeff Lykins, Dayton Fire Chief. “Although I would like to see the department grow, I understand the economic uncertainty that has resulted from this pandemic and look forward to applying to the SAFER grant in the near future.”