Fall River awarded $2 million SAFER grant
Posted Jul. 28, 2015 at 5:49 PM
FALL RIVER — Saying he was "extremely happy about the development," Mayor Sam Sutter announced Tuesday afternoon that Fall River has been awarded a $2.06 million SAFER grant that will add 10 firefighters to the Fall River Fire Department.
Sutter had just been notified of the $2,060,920 award of the two-year grant less than a half hour before contacting The Herald News.
"As I review this my thought is this is a major victory for the city and for the fire fighters and the chief," said the elated mayor.
The news was also good for Jason Burns, president of the city firefighters union, who said he's just heard and was in the middle of texting his union board about the news and had not had time to inform
his membership. Burns said he was "thrilled."
This will now bring the complement of firefighters from 175 to 185, although for a time the fire department had been working with a staff of 169 due to attrition. Burns said the department is in the final process of hiring six firefighters due to an increase in fiscal 2016.
"The grant has a significant impact on the safety of the members of the fire department and for the public," Burns said.
After several meetings with the firefighters union, Sutter — as one of his first decisions in office — approved applying for the SAFER grant in February. Sutter said he believes that was the right decision
although SAFER grants in the past after expiration, has led to significant layoffs in the fire department.
"I thought at the end of the grant personnel could be maintained and that's going to be our aim," Sutter said.
Fall River's two congressmen, who worked together with local officials to secure the federal funding, hailed the decision.
“This grant will allow Fall River to hire firefighters necessary to keep the Department efficiently and effectively operating, keeping both communities and our firefighters safe.” said U.S. Rep. Bill Keating. “I want to thank Jay Burns, president of IAFF L-1314, and Fire Chief Viveiros, who were great allies to Congressman Kennedy and me during our fight for this funding, and also Mayor Sutter for initiating the request in the first place.”
Said U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III: “This hard-fought SAFER grant will give Fall River firefighters the resources needed to keep our community safe, ensuring they have the equipment, staffing and funding their jobs require. Thanks to Jay Burns and Chief Viveiros, we were able to make a compelling case to Department of Homeland Security and look forward to working with them and Mayor Sutter to support Fall River’s first responders moving forward.”