WARWICK – The Warwick Fire Department was awarded a $3.1 million federal grant to hire and train up to 17 firefighters, lawmakers announced Thursday.
The funds from the federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant will help bring the total number of Warwick’s fire personnel to 214. The SAFER grant will cover the cost of all pay and benefits for the positions over the next two years.
According to a news release, the city has lost several firefighter positions since 2008 due to retirements and budget constraints. The new firefighters will be assigned to Warwick’s five busiest engine companies.
“We call on our firefighters in moments of crisis and they always answer that call,” U.S. Sen. Jack Reed said in prepared remarks. “The hiring of additional firefighters will improve emergency response capabilities.”
“Ensuring the Warwick Fire Department can maintain appropriate staffing levels will also help save money in the long run by reducing overtime costs,” added Reed, a Democrat.
SAFER funds are administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration.
The $3.1 million is the second major federal grant awarded to Warwick this year. In March, the Warwick Fire Department received a $683,451 federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant to help replace a 23-year-old vehicle and purchase a new aerial ladder truck.
“At a time when our cities and town are facing major fiscal constraints, this funding will be critical to ensuring the Warwick Fire Department has the resources to respond to emergency situations,” said U.S. Rep. James R. Langevin said in a statement. “As we face difficult decisions about the makeup of the federal budget, our first responders must be a top priority.”