SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The Syracuse Fire Department is going to be able to hire more firefighters and upgrade life-saving equipment thanks to two grants from the federal government.
On Monday, Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh and Fire Chief Michael Monds announced that the Syracuse Fire Department has been awarded two major FEMA grants totaling $3.3 million.
Our team is always looking for answers fiscally to make things better, and today’s the result of that. Our city tax dollars only stretch so far.Chief Michael Monds, Syracuse Fire Department
The first award is from FEMA’s Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program.
$3.2 million dollars will be given to the Syracuse Fire Department to hire 12 new firefighters. 100% of the salary and benefits of the newly hired firefighters will be covered for three years.
This money from FEMA’s SAFER program will be the largest grant that the Syracuse Fire Department has ever received.
“It all starts with our people,” — Fire Chief Michael Monds
The Syracuse Fire Department is currently staffed with 352 firefighters. Chief Monds says the process of hiring the 12 new firefighters will begin on October 18.
In the past, we’ve lost resources. We’ve lost fire stations. We’ve lost on-duty firefighters. Our overall staffing numbers have decreased since we put on a new shift in 1973. So, this will be the first time in recent history that we’ll be at such high numbers, which allows us to provide more and better services to our community.Chief Michael Monds, Syracuse Fire Department
The second award of $74,000 is from FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program. As of September 10, 2021, FEMA has made more than 2,200 awards totaling in $710.1 million.
For the Syracuse Fire Department, this money will go towards the purchase of new thermal imaging cameras, which allows firefighters to see through burning flames and smoke to quickly locate and rescue victims.
Because of this grant, every neighborhood fire station throughout the City of Syracuse will have at least one of these cameras.
These are devices carried by firefighters so they can see through smoke, see through darkness, and it helps us identify and rescue victims in a house fire, where there’s typically zero visibility.Deputy Chief John Kane, Syracuse Fire Department
The fire department has been unable to afford enough thermal imaging cameras to properly equip all engine companies, according to the fire department. With this grant, every neighborhood fire station will soon have at least one of these devices.
“This funding will help keep our firefighters and our community safer. Proper staffing and the right equipment save lives,” Chief Monds explained. “They make sure we can respond more quickly and use the right approaches in dealing with an emergency. I thank our federal partners for their support and want to recognize Deputy Chief John Kane and Janet Burke and her team in the Research and Grants Bureau. Their thorough and meticulous effort on the applications ensured we received this historic support.”
Congressman John Katko, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand each supported the Syracuse Fire Department’s application for the federal funds.
You can watch the entire press conference by clicking the player below: