FEMA awards the Fultondale Fire Department with SAFER Grant

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 5:59 PM CDT
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FULTONDALE, Ala. (WBRC) - The City of Fultondale will soon be a little safer thanks to a FEMA grant the fire department is getting to hire more staff.

The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, or “SAFER” grant will allow the Fultondale Fire Department to hire an additional six full-time employees.

It’s been a rough year for the City of Fultondale.

“We went through the tornado and did not get the FEMA reimbursement for the disaster for just the area that it hit, so the city had to absorb those costs, as well as the different things we’ve been through since,” said Fultondale Fire Chief, Justin McKenzie.

That tornado hit on January 25, 2021, the same day the fire department opened for the first time with a full staff.

“So, we started at 8 o’clock that morning, and by 10 p.m., that’s when the tornado hit. So, we went from zero to 100 in the first day,” Chief McKenzie said.

And just a couple of months later, the department’s fire marshal passed away.

Finding dedicated workers in the middle of a pandemic has also been difficult.

“That is a systemic problem across the state and I’m sure the whole South. It’s hard finding people that are, you know, wanting to come work in our field. The money, despite what people think, we don’t get paid very much for what we actually do. We do it for the job. We don’t do it for the money,” Chief McKenzie explained.

But now help is on the way.

FEMA just awarded the Fultondale Fire Department a SAFER grant to improve staffing.

The grant is a little more than $1.4 million, which will be dispersed over three years.

Chief McKenzie said it’ll provide salaries, benefits, and uniforms for six new employees.

“It’s specifically for frontline firefighters. So, these are firefighter paramedics that’ll be working on the trucks on shift to respond to calls in our community. So, this right here is tremendous for us. Like, we are absolutely excited for this opportunity.”

Chief McKenzie is taking applications now and would like to have those in by September 24th.

To apply, email your resume and the position you’re interested in to the Fultondale Fire Department at fultondalefire@fultondaleal.gov.

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