New federal resources have been awarded to the Boardman Fire Department, Sen. Sherrod Brown announced last week
Brown said that the Boardman Township Fire Department has been awarded resources for staffing by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) SAFER grant program.
“Firefighters put their lives on the line each day to keep our communities safe. These new federal resources will help ensure that Mahoning County has the skilled responders needed,” Brown said. “With so many communities already facing budget shortfalls, critical federal efforts like SAFER are pivotal in keeping our Ohio cities, towns, and villages safe.”
The Boardman Township Fire Department was awarded $601,680 to hire firefighters.
Township Administrator Jason Loree said the grant monies will provide “complete funding” for up to 25 volunteer fire-fighters, including equipment needed for the new hires over a four-year period.
Loree said the township has 30 days to accept, or reject the grant; and if accepted, the township then has 90 days to begin to implement the program to add volunteer firemen.
The SAFER grant program supports the hiring of firefighters and the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters.
SAFER grants are awarded directly to volunteer, combination, and career fire departments to help the departments increase the number of frontline firefighters.
Volunteer firemen were disbanded in the Boardman Fire Department in 2008, and after a study conducted by Tri-Data that claimed full-time firemen at the Boardman Fire Department had locked volunteers out of the main fire station for training drills.
“Boardman Township is interested in improving fire fighter safety and supporting the Fire Department as they protect and serve the community,” noted Loree.
“It is exciting to re-establish the volunteer component of our fire department and be able to assist our career fire-fighters in serving Boardman Township,” Boardman Fire Chief George Brown said.
“80 percent of the country has volunteer fire fighter programs and this grant will allow us to restart our own volunteer program to help bolster the Township’s ISO rating, keeping Boardman Township property insurance premiums low.”
“This grant is in line with the goals Boardman Township has established in its 2016 Plan said Trustee Larry Moliterno, add ing “and it provides for a very creative way to bring a volunteer program back to Boardman Township at no cost to the residents. A marketing cost to recruit volunteers was also provided for in this grant, with emphasis for military veteran participation.”
“The grant will provide a great opportunity for volunteers to learn the skills and trades to become full-time fire fighters,” added Trustee Brad Calhoun.
Boardman Township currently has 38 full-time fire fighters, including three funded by a 2010 SAFER grant that provides monies for three years.
While a longtime fire chief at Howland Township before coming to Boardman, Chief Brown led a department that had more manpower (25 full-time fire-fighters, 25 part-tine fire-fighters and 21 volunteer fire-fighters), and operated on an annual budget of some $3.2 million.
At Boardman, Chief Brown leads a department of 38 full-time firemen and the department has an annual budget of $4.2 million.
Many, current Boardman Township fire-fighters first-served as volunteer firemen.
Application for the grant was completed by Chief Brown and his administrative assistant, Vickie Davis.
The Board of Trustees said they are pleased to have been awarded the grant and thanked Congressman Tim Ryan, Senators Sherrod Brown and Senator Rob Portman along with their staffs for their support.