Camas officials are hoping funding for a federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant will be extended, so that the three people hired with the help of those monies in 2012 can continue to be employed by the Camas-Washougal Fire Department.
“In August 2014, the funding for those three positions expires,” Camas-Washougal Fire Chief Nick Swinhart said during last night’s Camas City Council meeting. “As part of the financial forecasting for the merger efforts we are undergoing with the city of Washougal, those positions are indeed still forecasted to go away at this time.”
In June 2012, Swinhart announced that the fire department had earned a $490,000 SAFER grant that would pay the salaries and benefits of three new firefighter/IV technicians for two years.
Administered through the Department of Homeland Security, the grant is aimed at providing funding directly to fire departments to help increase the number of trained, front line firefighters.
Yesterday, Swinhart said with the council’s green light the city planned to again apply for the SAFER grant funding in an effort to continue support those same three positions.
“This year is a little different in that FEMA is allocating 70 percent of all funding to departments that have SAFER positions and are at risk for losing them, to help agencies hold on to their positions a little longer,” Swinhart said. “If we are awarded the grant, it would basically amount to a two-year extension to the grant beyond August 2014.”
The one-month open application period closes at the end of August. Swinhart said he doesn’t expect to be informed of the results until spring 2014.
“I think we’ve got a fairly good chance,” he said. “If we don’t [receive the grant again] then we have to go back to the drawing board. But it makes sense to all involved that we should at least give it a shot so that we know that we’ve tried that avenue.”