Bridgeport, CT – Mayor Joe Ganim and Fire Chief Richard Thode announced that the city has been awarded a $2.7 Million dollar SAFER grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to fund the hiring of 17 new firefighters. The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants Program (SAFER) was created by FEMA to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help them increase or maintain the number of trained, “front line” firefighters available in their communities. The goal of SAFER is to enhance the local fire departments' abilities to comply with staffing, response and operational standards established by the National Fire Protection Association. Specifically, the grant awarded Bridgeport will fund the salaries of 17 out of the 24 new fire recruits for the next two years.
“The federal grant is tremendously helpful for our city and our Fire Department,” said Mayor Ganim. “The Bridgeport Fire Department has been dangerously understaffed for years and this grant will allow us to bring in a new class of badly needed recruits. Adding new firefighters will not only make our city safer, but funding more firefighters will also reduce our spending on overtime, which helps the city’s bottom line. My top priority as Mayor is strengthening public safety for all in Bridgeport and this grant is a huge boost to our efforts.”
Bridgeport Fire Chief Richard Thode said, “I am so grateful to Senator Murphy, Senator Blumenthal and Congressman Himes for helping our department access these crucial federal funds through the SAFER grant program. This grant will allow us to open the door to our new recruits and return our staffing level once again to full strength at 282 firefighters. These brave men and women put their lives on the line every day – at a moment’s notice – to protect a city of over 147,000 residents. With the addition of our new recruit class, our department will be better equipped to meet the needs of our community.”
US Senator Chris Murphy said, “Connecticut firefighters put their lives on the line to keep our families safe in times of peril. I’m proud to have helped Bridgeport receive this critical funding to put 17 well-trained first responders on the ground ready to serve the community.”
US Senator Richard Blumenthal, “I applaud this major federal investment in the safety of Bridgeport— helping residents when they are most in need. Our brave firefighters risk their lives every day to save ours, and this grant will help ensure they have the full team they need to respond quickly, safely and effectively.”
Congressman Jim Himes (CT-04) said, “Nothing gives Connecticut families and communities more peace of mind than knowing that brave first responders are ready to come to our aid when we are in need. This $2.7 million dollar federal grant, allowing for the hiring of more firefighters in Bridgeport, adds to that peace of mind and allows us to provide jobs for our local heroes.”
Bridgeport’s class of 24 new fire recruits are scheduled to begin a week long orientation at the Bridgeport Fire Headquarters on August 22, 2016. The recruits start a 14-week training camp at the Connecticut State Fire Training Academy in Windsor Locks on August 29th. During this training academy, they will receive state-of-the-art instruction in fire suppression and mitigation procedures designed to meet nationally recognized standards and certifications.