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Wyandotte Officials Poised to Hire 4 Firefighters with $616,000 Grant

The federal grant would pay the firefighters' salaries and benefits from March 2013 to March 2015.

Wyandotte city officials are expected to vote Monday night to accept that will cover the costs of hiring four new firefighters for two years.

Wyandotte Fire Chief Jeffery Carley received word last month that his department had been chosen for the grant and now just needs the City Council's OK to hire the additional firefighters.

The three-member Wyandotte Police and Fire Commission voted unanimously in favor of the grant and are urging council members to do the same.

"The Police & Fire Commission enthusiastically recommends acceptance of this award," commissioners wrote in a letter to city officials. "This grant will enable the Fire Department to return to a staffing level of 28 firefighters, which will allow seven firefighters on duty for each shift. This staffing level will support a rapid and effective response to fire calls should two ambulances be engaged, and will also provide additional flexibility in staffing, a reduction in overtime expenses, more training opportunities and improved readiness across the department."

The funding will provide $351,292 in salaries and an additional $265,584 in benefits for the four firefighters, who would work from March 6, 2013 through March 5, 2015.

The money comes from the Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters grant program. It's a part of the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response program, which is a competitive grant process to help ensure that fire departments nationwide have the frontline firefighters they need to protect their communities.

Carley said he originally applied for the SAFER grant in January 2012, but his request was turned down. He reapplied in August and this time, was successful.

"I'm ecstatic," Carley said.

City Administrator Todd Drysdale is in support of the city accepting the grant.

"After the expiration of the grant funding, the city will need to evaluate the necessity of these positions based on service delivery expectations, budgetary situation, and attrition within the department," he wrote in a letter to city officials. "There is no requirement to maintain the employment of these firefighters after the expiration of the grant funding and the city will not incur any legacy costs associated with the two-year employment period."

Kellie Farrell January 14, 2013 at 01:23 PM
Do it!!
acroporless January 14, 2013 at 03:14 PM
Sounds Nice, But be prepared to hear all the arguments about why they should be retianed after the grant expires. Then the cost will revert to taxpayers, plus additional raises & pension cost, which long term is the big hitter. If they are laid off in 2 years no will be ecstatic. Lincoln park facing a budget crisis turned down the grants, becuase the grant while in affect does not permit layoffs. Unfortunately sometimes the threat of layoffs is the only tool cities have to bring unions to the bargaining table. Wyandotte a leader in consolidating services, should consider contracting out ambulance service, eliminating the need for the new firemen, the grant, and achieve future savings.
Douglas Reimel January 14, 2013 at 03:40 PM
The more pressing issue is if you hire new firefighters and the City cash situation gets worse, because of seniority rules you cannot lay-off any firefighters. It just puts any city in a bad situation in this economy.
Jerry Cunningham January 14, 2013 at 03:53 PM
Agree with both comments. How many fires and first responder calls are there in Wyandotte? Is there a shortage of Firefighters in the city??
yoli January 14, 2013 at 06:14 PM
who cares how many fires or first responders this city has I bet if it was your house or loved one that need them you wouldn't be questing how many... I say do it!!
JJ January 14, 2013 at 08:13 PM
One way to open the eyes of Wyandotte tax-payers is to have the Wyandotte News Harold through the freedom of information act,get a copy of the number of calls made by the Wyandotte Fire Dept. and by incident type ETC. and print it in the paper and to be fair,show a break down over the last three (3) years.Then let the taxpayers see for themselves how their tax dollars are spent!
Jason Alley (Editor) January 14, 2013 at 08:35 PM
FYI: The 2010 stats are included as part of this story: http://patch.com/A-jr5S I'll see about getting the most current ones, as well.
Steve January 15, 2013 at 02:26 AM
I drives me nuts how they'll do it just because they have the money now and not even look at if it is needed. I've never heard anyone complain about the fire or emt response time in the city so why hire 4 more? The firefighters probably love it because they all just got 4 more people below them. Wait until after the grant is out and see were the money comes from to keep them on board.
Doug Melzer January 15, 2013 at 03:33 AM
The stats mentioned by Jason above are roughly the same for 2012...the report for 2012 will be out in a few weeks and we average over 200 ambulance runs per month and 50 "fire truck" runs per month. We have 24 firefighters right now, and need 28 firefighters to have 7 per shift. Having 7 officers allows us to have both ambulances dispatched and still be able to effectively respond to a fire. (it takes a minimum of 3 firemen to respond to a fire). The biggest factor in fighting a fire is response time. With only 24 firemen we can have only 6 or even 5 on a shift which in some situations would have us going to mutual aid for a first response to a fire which is much slower than having our own department respond. Consolidation is a possible solution if the various Cities can get together on a deal. Other cities contract ambulance transport so their firemen are not out of the City for long periods of time. Since the hospital is in our city limits we don't have that issue and enjoy very low response times. There is not a cost savings to contract transport, and we would lose about $1 million in ambulance billings a year. Hopefully the City Council will allow us to retain some or all of these new hires. ....Doug Melzer, Wyandotte Fire Commission
acroporless January 15, 2013 at 02:57 PM
Who receives the 1 million that ambualance runs generate, The fire dept or the city? Also what is the annual cost of manpower, wages, benefits, pension etc for 200 ambualnce runs a month, No doubt much more then the 1million generated, Wyandoote having a hospital in the city unlike many other surrounding communites should see contracting out ambulance service as an advantage.
Doug Melzer January 16, 2013 at 02:04 AM
The ambulance billings go to the City General fund, which pays for city expenses including the fire department. Otherwise that $1 million would have to be made up by more taxes or other fees. The ambulance billings do not cover the entire cost of the ambulance service. If we fully contracted rescue and ambulance service we would have to go back to 3 or 4 men on duty and one station which is not a good situation. In a fire scenario where we have no ambulance runs, we can send 7 men and 2 engines right away to a fire. In the scenario where we have 2 ambulances out, we can still send an engine and 3 men, which also gives a quick response and buys time until mutual aid arrives. Places like Southgate only use the ambulance service for transport so their staff is not out of the City and they can be available for fire duty. Because the hospital is local, we can transport and still have the manpower in the City. Taylor went to contract folks last year and closed stations to reduce cost and manpower, and that has increased their response times. My view is that we should have a professional, fully trained fire department on duty at all times and not use contract companies or part time staff. We have a very large industrial complex, numerous small manufacturing businesses, schools, high rises and a power plant in the City. Each of these presents a challenge in a fire situation and requires planning and training so we are prepared in case things happen.
acroporless January 16, 2013 at 04:43 AM
Thank you doug for your response, I have to say i never gave any thought to the industrial complex business that wyandotte relies on for tax base and not to mention protecting the public should there be a major fire disaster etc, Hopefully the new firemen can be retained after the grant expires.
Kris Long January 20, 2013 at 04:15 PM
Thank you also Doug for your clarification of the importance of our EMS/fire department. I am in full support in keeping and improving our fire and police departments. As a nurse in the Wyandotte ER, i know first hand on how important response times are for the survival of life. I am also a Wyandotte resident that pays high taxes in this city (as does everyone else), but do not see a problem with that because i know i am protected by our own police and fire departments. Although both departments do have room for some improvement on staffing. I think the Safer Grant is great and the men hired will more then likely fall into spaces of the firemen that will probably retire in the next few years. I believe that the citizens of Wyandotte with have a more pressing issue on their hands soon with the possible union of Wyandotte and Southgate fire and ems. I really hope that Wyandotte residents revoke and protest against this merger as it will compromise the response times of our EMS.
jc January 25, 2013 at 07:36 PM
in 2012 over 2700 ems calls, over 450 fire calls. only a shortage till you dial 911 and nobody is available to come. 6 firefighters working per day 23 total in dept
jc January 25, 2013 at 07:41 PM
if you want to know more about the fire dept., just ask. its your dept and you have the right. stop and talk to the firefighters when you see the out and about town.

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