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Federal funds will help some area fire departments resolve staffing shortages

Posted: 8:12 PM, Sep 25, 2019
Updated: 2019-09-26 01:41:05-04

LIBERTY TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Some fire departments that have been battling recurring staffing shortages are getting much-needed federal funds to help them fill out their crews.

The Department of Homeland Security is handing out more than $5.5 million to nine Southwest Ohio fire departments. In Liberty Township, Battalion Chief Chad Canupp said the infusion of more than $1 million will help stabilize its work force.

“This whole region has depended a fair amount on part-time staffing in the past,” said Canupp.

Canupp has seen overtime hours continue to increase as part-time staff leave for full-time jobs somewhere else.

“We employ a significant amount of our time to these part-timers as they come in to get them to our standards, and they will obtain a career position elsewhere,” Canupp said.

Canupp’s department found out this week it will be getting $1.36 million through the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response program, also called SAFER.

The Fairfield Fire Department will get $1.2 million and Franklin is set to get just over $1 million - both to hire more firefighters.

“That is a very large amount of money for us,” Canupp said.

The money will enable Liberty Township to hire nine new full-time firefighter/EMTs and address that revolving door.

“With these more permanent employees, we should be able to train them and give them our time and effort and then retain them,” Canupp said.

The nine new firefighter/EMTs need to start within 180 days under the SAFER grant requirements.

“This is the future of our department,” Canupp said. “They’re going to be here for potentially 25 to 30 years, so we want to make sure we choose the right people.”