Fort Wayne to hire 25 firefighters with help of $1.4M federal grant

Fort Wayne plans to hire 25 new firefighters to fill vacancies created through retirements and 10 the hires are a result of the city receiving a $1.4 million Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant from the federal government.

SAFER grants were created to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help increase the number of trained, front-line firefighters available in their communities. The grant will cover salaries and benefits for ten new firefighters for three years. Salaries and benefits will then be part of the city budget at the completion of the three years. The additional 15 new firefighters will be part of the city’s 2019 budget request.

The additional firefighters will enhance the fire department’s level of service by ensuring four firefighters are on a fire apparatus at all times and will be used to fill positions that are vacated through anticipated and unanticipated retirements.

“The SAFER grant provides a welcome opportunity to increase the number of firefighters we have. The Fort Wayne Fire Department is an essential component of the outstanding quality of life we enjoy in Fort Wayne.,” Mayor Tom Henry said in a statement.

Fire Chief Eric Lahey stated the city is “very fortunate to have received a second consecutive award under the SAFER grant . . . The Fort Wayne Fire Department is committed to saving lives and being fiscally responsible. Grant awards like this one help us accomplish that goal.”

We will continue to identify opportunities like the SAFER grant to make our Fire Department as efficient as possible.”

It’s anticipated the fire academy class would begin in February 2019. Currently, there are 339 firefighters with the Fort Wayne Fire Department, which is responsible for the second-largest land mass in Indiana as well as infrastructure critical to the entire region. The department makes nearly 23,000 runs annually.