Fredonia not pursuing FEMA fire grant

The village of Fredonia will not be hiring nine new firefighters.

According to Mayor Stephen Keefe, the village will not be pursuing the SAFER, or Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, through a Federal Emergency Management Agency $1.3 million grant.

The grant would pay to have full-time firefighters on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the department. By having two firefighters on duty around the clock, the department would be in compliance with the National Fire Protection Agency standards.

“I don’t think (the village) will further pursue it,” Keefe said.

In order to have the manpower, the department would have to hire nine more firefighters, who in turn would be laid off in two years if the grant was not renewed. Keefe cited board disagreement about the matter and the hiring costs for the extra manpower, estimated at over $60,000 by Lt. Randall Butts of the fire department, for reasons why the board would not pursue the grant.

When Butts originally brought the grant to the village board last month. Board members would have until May to approve the grant, which was already approved by FEMA.

Keefe said he recently received an email of a deadline in March to respond to the grant, so he was unsure about the deadline.

Keefe did mention he has put in his budget the option to hire part-time firefighters as full-time.

Currently the department has two part-time firefighters. He said those firefighters would not be hired as full-time until the ambulance has a billing system.

“I added two firemen into the budget but won’t hire them until the ambulance has a billing system in place,” he said. “If (the village) is generating revenue (on the ambulance), I would hire a full-time firefighter.”

Currently, the village cannot receive payment for ambulance calls by billing insurance companies. If a billing system were to be put in place, the village could receive revenue for those calls. Keefe said the village won’t hire the part-time firefighters until the revenue is starting.

“We won’t hire anyone new until the revenue is there,” he said.

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