City Council declines Tyler Fire Department SAFER Grant

TYLER, Texas (KETK) - On Wednesday, the Tyler City Council voted to decline the Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant awarded the Tyler Fire Department.

The TFD asked the City Council to accept a grant awarded to them by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for $1,581,128. 

The TFD said the grant would be another step toward maintaining the city’s current favorable Insurance Services Office (ISO) which saves residents and businesses millions of dollars on insurance premiums.

The TFD administration also said the grant would cover firefighter salaries and benefits at a rate of 75 percent for the first two years and 35 percent in the third year. Half of the cost to the city for the first two years of the grant would be offset by estimated savings in overtime, which is currently necessary to keep minimum staffing. The City of Tyler would be responsible for the full salary and benefits beginning on year four.

The main purpose of the grant was to hire 12 additional firefighters following authorization from the City Council.

The request was made through a formal letter to the City Council which can be read below:

The Tyler Professional Fire Fighters Association proudly announces that the City of Tyler Fire Department was awarded a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Justin Dominy, president of the Tyler Professional Fire Fighters Association, IAFF Local 883, said, “The Tyler Fire Department competed against thousands of departments during the rigorous grant process and was one of only 10 departments selected from Texas. Co-operation between our association and the city made this happen. We are grateful for our community’s support of firefighters.”

Subject to Tyler City Council approval on Oct. 11, the SAFER Grant will provide the city with $1.58 million in funding over a three-year period for the hiring of an additional 12 fire fighters. Acceptance of this grant would be another step towards maintaining the city’s current favorable ISO Rating (Insurance Services Office), which saves residents and businesses millions of dollars on insurance premiums.

Dominy added, “Adequate staffing levels are crucial to ensure the safety of our citizens and fire fighters. The SAFER Grant was created to provide funding directly to fire departments to help add and retain trained, front-line firefighters in their communities. The goal of SAFER is to enhance the local fire departments’ ability to comply with staffing response and operational standards established by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA 1710.) Our city officials understand this. We also want to thank the staff of Sen. John Cornyn which provided assistance and two deadline extensions so the city could ensure the feasibility of accepting the grant.”

If approved, the SAFER Grant will cover firefighter salaries and benefits at a rate of 75 percent for the first two years and 35 percent in the third year. Half of the cost to the city for the first two years of the grant will be offset by estimated savings in overtime, which is currently necessary to keep minimum staffing. The City of Tyler would be responsible for the full salary and benefits beginning on year four.

During the discussion on whether or not to accept the grant, Councilman Don Warren spoke out in support of the fire department, but implied funds were slim on the city's side.

Councilman Ed Moore chimed in stating he would love to add staff to the fire department, however it was the taxes on Tylerites he feared.

Councilman Bob Westrbook also voiced support for the TFD, but struggled with the financial issues.


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