EDDINGTON, Maine — There is only one item on the Dec. 15 special town meeting agenda and that is whether to apply for a federal SAFER grant, and whether to accept it if it is awarded to the town, Town Manager Russell Smith said on Wednesday.
The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, grant is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency and is designed to help fire departments increase the number of trained “front line” firefighters, the FEMA Web site states.
“The goal of SAFER is to enhance the local fire departments’ abilities to comply with staffing, response and operational standards [and] to increase their staffing and deployment capabilities in order to respond to emergencies whenever they may occur,” the site states.
The SAFER grant would fund a full-time firefighter’s position for two years and would require the town to pay for the third, which is an estimated $48,000 cost, Smith said.
The town was recently awarded a one-year federal Emergency Response Corps grant to create an AmeriCorps position and hire the town’s first full-time firefighter. The AmeriCorps position was filled by Craig Russell, a certified emergency medical technician and firefighter, but expires in October 2010.
“If we were to get the SAFER grant, that position would continue for two more years” at no cost to the town, Smith said.
Russell works 40 hours a week providing daytime station coverage under the new program.
A public hearing to discuss the matter was held on Monday and six residents attended the meeting to hear more about details of the grant, Smith said.
“They were asking questions about whether to put money away for the first two years so we don’t have a big” expense on the third year, he said.
The deadline to apply for the 2009 round of SAFER grants is Dec. 18.
If residents approve the measure at the special town meeting, “we’re going to apply and try,” Smith said. “We may not get it.”