Congressman Mike Rogers notified the members of McCord’s Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department on Wednesday afternoon that the department has been awarded a $311,627.00 grant to recruit and retain volunteer firefighters. The grant was secured through the 2017 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants Program (SAFER).
SAFER is a federal grant program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and was created 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.
“I feel certain that this grant will save lives and property in our jurisdiction and the surrounding area,” stated Chief Lindsey. The grant, which has many facets, is aimed at recruiting new volunteers and retaining current firefighters by reducing the financial burden placed on volunteers and incentivizing their participation in the activities of the department. One of the key elements of the grant is that it will pay volunteers a fifty dollar stipend to “man the station” for twelve hours. Chief Lindsey said, “Response times are a critical component in the fire and rescue world and having a qualified firefighter at the station will allow us to reduce response times by three to five minutes on average.”
Since staffing will be provided by volunteers who have other jobs,there may be some shifts in which no one is available to man the station, but it is the department’s goal to minimize these gaps.The grant will also pay volunteers a fifteen dollar per call stipend for responding to incidents. This is a benefit that has been provided in local cities for many years but has never been available to the unincorporated areas of Cherokee County. Volunteer firefighters drive their own vehicles to calls, which can create a financial burden on the volunteers and their families. This will help to offset that burden and hopefully open the door for others to volunteer.
Other benefits that will be funded by the grant include: new protective equipment and physicals for new recruits, the incorporation of living quarters into the current fire station, and a part-time recruitment and retention coordinator to oversee the activities of this grant and ensure its success.
Chief Lindsey added that one of the greatest aspects of the grant is that it is 100% funded by the federal government. “I want to ensure the public that NO LOCAL FUNDS will be used for staffing. Our local tax dollars, and your donations, will still be used for daily operations and to purchase much-needed lifesaving equipment,” said Lindsey. He went on to say, “It has become increasingly difficult to recruit and retain volunteers in today’s social and economic