(WKBW release) Congressman Brian Higgins and City of Lackawanna Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski announced the award of a federal fire grant for the Lackawanna Fire Department totaling $458,752. The funds were provided through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) program.
According to a news release:
“Mayor Szymanski and the Lackawanna Fire Department are to be applauded for putting together a qualifying grant application in an increasingly competitive program and seeking long-term solutions to a growing problem for the City,” said Congressman Higgins, a member of the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security. “As a result, this grant will help reduce overtime costs for local taxpayers and provide additional first responders in Lackawanna, improving fire services overall for the community.”
SAFER grants assist local fire departments with staffing and deployment capabilities to ensure that communities have adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards. Congress approved $380 million for the SAFER program nationwide.
“Plain and simple we are short-staffed and it is costing us excessive amounts in overtime to adequately cover the Lackawanna’s fire service needs,” said Mayor Szymanski. “This grant is greatly needed to reverse overtime expenses growing at a record-breaking pace. It will allow the City to address staffing challenges from a systemic approach and recruit new firefighters to fill on-duty minimum requirements thereby providing a long-term fix to minimizing our overtime budget.”
In his 2012 State of the City Address Mayor Szymanski raised a red flag about the growing expense of overtime costs within the City fire department and listed the issue as a priority. Overtime costs for the year are expected to cost the City $550,000.
Lackawanna Fire Department operates out of 3 firehouses and responded to 2,929 calls for emergency medical services and structure fires in 2010.