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October 19, 2017
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FEMA informs Fall River that city will not get SAFER grant
Posted On: Apr 07, 2014
FALL RIVER — The Federal Emergency Management Agency informed the city on Monday there will be no SAFER grant, which could have saved the jobs of 16 firefighters, Mayor Will Flanagan announced.
That means Flanagan will go forward with the layoffs of 60 firefighters this summer, reducing the Fall River Fire Department from a complement of 213 to 153.
“We are going to see a more nimble fire department on July 1,” Flanagan said.
The city's fire department has been bolstered by SAFER grants for nearly the past four years.
Firefighters Local 1314 President Jason Burns said it’s disappointing news, but the firefighters knew it was an uphill battle.
He noted the fire department has brought in $26 million to the city coffers to fund 158 firefighters in past years.
Two years ago — after learning the city was awarded what was, at the time, the largest SAFER grant ever given to a municipality — Flanagan said the city had to start planning for the future.
“We need to assure in two years we’re not in the same place we are now — relying on a bailout by the federal government,” Flanagan said.
“We thought we were making headway,” said Burns, “but obviously that wasn’t the case. Whatever it was, it didn’t work. Where are the solutions coming from the sixth floor?"
The city sought funding for the third time for 16 firefighters, which would have totaled more than $3.2 million. It identified in its application to FEMA that it was committed to funding the 79 firefighter positions currently paid for through a $14.4 million SAFER grant awarded in 2011.
That didn’t happen, and Flanagan announced in February that the city didn’t have the funds and would layoff 60 firefighters, almost 35 percent of the department.
Flanagan said he is working with Fire Chief Robert Viveiros to reorganize the fire department “so we can protect public safety.”
He said he’s also enlisted the help of retired District Fire Chief Robert Camara to assist with the reorganization.
Camara and Daniel Robillard led the charge to recall Flanagan in 2011.
“The chief might not have been my biggest supporter, but this is bigger than anyone person,” Flanagan said.

 


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