City awarded $14.2M federal grant to hire 60 more firefighters

Jacksonville SAFER grant is highest of any awarded in Florida, mayor says

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The city of Jacksonville was awarded more than $14 million in federal grant money to hire 60 more Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department personnel, the mayor announced Tuesday.

The $14,240,160 was the second-largest grant awarded this year through FEMA’s Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant program. New Orleans received a grant of $15.9 million this month.

MORE: FEMA database of SAFER grant awards

The $14 million was the largest grant awarded to any city in Florida, and far surpassed the $5.5 million SAFER grant the city was awarded last September, Mayor Lenny Curry said.

He said the grant will fund salary and benefits for 60 additional firefighters, freeing up city dollars for other priorities without impacting public safety priorities.

“The federal government has been an amazing partner to Jacksonville throughout this pandemic and beyond,” Curry said. “This is a big deal.”

U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, R-Jacksonville, said the mayor and JFRD Chief Keith Powers put together an “amazing” application that “exceeded all expectations” and earned the funding. The former Jacksonville sheriff said he remembers riding out with firefighters during his time with the Sheriff’s Office.

“I know every day they’re out there as heroes, saving lives in this community,” Rutherford said. “I just thank God I’ve got an extra way of helping now that I didn’t have before.”

Powers thanked Rutherford for fighting in Washington to bring federal dollars to Jacksonville and thanked Curry for honoring his pledge to shore up public safety in the community.

Jacksonville has received SAFER grants over the last five years.

“That total number is $41,918,022. That is big for this department. It’s big for the citizens of this county and the city,” Powers said.

Powers said JFRD is working to be compliant with the National Fire Protection Association’s 1710 standards by adding more personnel on frontline fire engines. He said last year’s grant added 18 personnel to those fire apparatus and this year’s grant will add 20 more. He said the department has 20 more to go to be in compliance.

“That allows us to provide a safer working environment for these men and women that serve the city on a daily basis and allows us to get in and save the (lives of) people that we serve on a daily basis,” Powers said.

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