GALION - The Galion Fire & EMS Department has been awarded a SAFER grant funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant aims to help fire departments increase or maintain the number of trained, front line firefighters.
Galion was one of 20 departments nationwide to be selected in the first round of awards as of Aug. 27. The total funding is $782,848 and will pay the wages and benefits of three additional firefighters for three years.
“I am thrilled about the announcement and thankful to my team for creating this opportunity. This starts with the Mayor’s office and City Council for allowing us to seek opportunities that will bring our Federal monies back to the community to benefit Galionites,” Fire Chief Phil Jackson said. “Applications are very time consuming and detail-oriented but we write them in-house.
"I don’t know of any fire department that has experienced the same success with obtaining grants, and this track record is a testament to the talent of the aforementioned team.”
The Fire & EMS Department currently has a staff of 17, including the chief and fire inspector. By comparison, the department operated with 23 staff members until 2006 due to layoffs. In the last 15 years since the staff reduction, the Galion Fire Department has seen a 58% increase in the need for emergency services. In 2020 alone, it responded to 624 fire related calls and 1,849 EMS calls.
“The additional staff will allow us to put more responders on scene sooner, creating a much safer and efficient emergency response. It gives us more capabilities to respond to simultaneous events with fully staffed apparatus,” Jackson added.
The department will also be able to respond more readily when called for mutual aid to surrounding communities. This will be vital as the rest of Crawford County transitions away from a Joint Ambulance District into alternative ways of providing emergency response services.
“We feel very fortunate to receive this grant. It’s an indication of how solid Galion’s application was and will put us in a position to be more responsive,” Mayor Tom O’Leary said.
After the grant is finalized with FEMA, the city will conduct a civil service test to establish a hiring list and then begin the interview process. Adding to the Fire Department’s staff will also allow the administration to look at longer-term succession planning, as there will be at least six firefighters eligible to retire in three years.
More than 1,900 SAFER grants have been awarded since they were first offered in 2015. For more information, visit FEMA’s website.