The city of Monroe is the latest jurisdiction to receive Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) funds, which will cover the cost of hiring seven new firefighters for two years. The
"We based that (staffing study) on growth analysis and historical changes in our call volume in the city," he said. "We believed at that time we would need to add six positions."
The seventh position is a community paramedic position, a role that has been filled by the regular crew for a year. That person will reach out mainly to elderly patients they have transported to the hospital for things like heart attacks, strokes, respiratory issues and the like, and create a proactive care plan.
"The goal is to basically be able to keep them at home and out of the hospital and out of the doctor's office," he said. "We'll work with the physicians groups and hospitals on that to be able to provide something that reduces the likelihood of readmission."
For fiscal year 2015 -- funds are being distributed this year --
It appears Oxford is the only large jurisdiction in the county that hasn't applied for SAFER funding. Fire Chief
"We have not applied for SAFER funds due to fear of not being able to sustain the positions at the end of the grant," he said.
Centers said the city can support the extra personnel when the grant runs out.
"We looked at the funding and where we think we'll be at the end of that grant cycle and it was believed the budget would support continuing those positions...," he said. "It was agreed that we would continue to fund those positions and we were capable of funding those positions."
"We had to come up with a plan to make things safe for our firefighters and the citizens of
"We have an adequate number of paramedics -- we need more firefighters on duty," Lolli said.
Within the next five years, 28 firefighters now working for the city will be able to retire, not that they all will, Lolli said. As they are replaced by lower-paid firefighter/EMTs, that will help the city sustain the increased staffing.
Centers said the SAFER grants were established to help communities replenish staffing that was depleted during economic downturns. He said his city hasn't had any layoffs but there were some open positions they didn't fill during the Great Recession.
"Honestly our staffing is good, our biggest problem is finding people," he said. There's not enough people going into the fire service. There's too few qualified people chasing too many jobs."
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