COVINGTON, Ky. -- The city of Covington has been awarded $1.36 million in federal grant funds to hire eight new full-time firefighters. The mayor and city commission formally accepted the SAFER grant at their Sept. 13 meeting.
“The SAFER grant provides the Covington Fire Department an opportunity to improve its firefighting capabilities by hiring additional personnel to staff the apparatus. The increase in staff gives us the ability to better help serve Covington citizens," said Fire Chief Dan Mathew.
The fire department originally had 111 staffed personnel, but due to retirements, it currently has 105 employees, Mathew said. The SAFER grant will require the department to maintain 114 employees for the term of the grant period. They have 180 days to hire the eight SAFER funded positions and are actively engaged in that process now.
The grant is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and provides two-year grants to assist fire departments in paying the salaries and benefits of the SAFER funded positions.
On Aug. 26, the city received notification it had been awarded the SAFER grant. The grant was created to improve and restore staffing levels to ensure fire departments have adequate personnel to respond and safely perform at incident scenes. The grant also ensures fire departments have the ability to provide protection from fire and fire-related hazards in its community.
$3 Million Approved for New Fire Equipment
At the same meeting, the mayor and commission authorized city staff to purchase $3 million in new fire department equipment that includes a tractor-drawn aerial ladder truck, two engine pumpers and two ambulances. This purchase of public safety equipment follows the purchase of 32 new police vehicles approved by the mayor and city commission on July 13.
The approval of the expenditures allows the fire department to replace older apparatus vehicles with top-quality apparatus fleet vehicles, increasing the overall safety and efficiency in Covington.
“This is great news for the both the fire department and the city," said City Manager Larry Klein. "Through the increase in personnel and the purchase of fleet equipment, we are taking the necessary steps forward to ensure our citizens and businesses are safe. We are additionally ensuring they are receiving the highest quality services offered from the largest and best fire department in Northern Kentucky.”