Frederick County has been awarded a $5,498,585 grant to pay for 38 additional career firefighter positions, which will reduce response times and enhance firefighter and public safety throughout the county. The grant is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program. When the new positions are filled, the Division of Fire & Rescue Service will have 453 operational career firefighters.
“This is fabulous news for Frederick County,” said County Executive Jan Gardner. “The SAFER grant helps us to meet the needs of our growing community. With more firefighters on staff, we can improve response times, reduce our reliance on overtime, and better support our volunteer companies. Our entire fire service is excited and grateful for the funding for these needed positions. I want to thank our federal delegation for their work to secure these funds so we can better serve and protect our community.”
Frederick County’s grant is the eighth largest awarded in the country, and the second largest in Maryland. The funding allows the County to add positions earlier than otherwise would have been possible. It will support 75% of salary and benefits for the positions for two years and 35% for a third year. This is the second time the county has received a SAFER grant. In 2016, the county was awarded $6.3 million in funding to pay for 41 additional combined firefighter and emergency medical positions.
“This SAFER grant award will enable the County to meet the ever-increasing demand for service,” said Interim Fire Chief Tom Coe. “We are grateful that the funding will allow us to fill several requests from our volunteer fire and EMS companies for staffing assistance.”
The Division of Fire and Rescue Services is a combination career and volunteer department consisting of 23 combined career/volunteer stations and six all-volunteer stations. The department is responsible for providing fire and emergency medical service response to over 255,000 residents. In 2018, it responded to nearly 34,000 calls and 1,142 automatic mutual aid responses.