Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-1) today announced a $553,953 federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant for Arcata. The grant was awarded through The Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The funds are part of the an AFG program called Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) and will be used to make sure fire departments can attain and maintain 24-hour staffing, and to assure that their communities have adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards.
"With these grants we're helping our fire departments recruit, hire and retain firefighters," said Thompson. "This will help our economy and help save lives. I am proud to support these grants and thank our firefighters and first responders for their service."
The award of the SAFER grant will enable the Arcata Fire Protection District to hire and provide benefits for three full-time firefighter positions. Firefighters will be hired and trained within the next 90 days. These additional positions will allow Arcata to meet NFPA 1720 standards for combination Fire department response.
"Captain Curt Watkins wrote our grant application and deserves full credit for the success of this award," said John McFarland, Fire Chief of the Arcata Fire Protection District. "The three firefighter positions will allow Arcata Fire to meet the National Fire Protection Association's staffing and response Standard (NFPA 1720) for combination, career and volunteer fire departments. This is truly a landmark accomplishment for any fire agency."
The objective of the SAFER program is to award grants directly to volunteer, combination, and career fire departments to help the departments increase the number of frontline firefighters, and to rehire firefighters who were laid-off due to the economy.
In Fiscal Year 2011, the DHS awarded approximately $380 million to fire departments and volunteer support groups so they could expand the number of firefighters available to more effectively protect the health and safety of the public.