Lexington Fire receives $4.2 million in SAFER funding to hire 21 new firefighters

The Lexington Fire Department has been awarded a $4.2 million grant that will allow it to hire 21 additional firefighters.

“Public safety is my top priority,” Mayor Linda Gorton said. “This grant will make our community safer.”

The goal of the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant is to provide funding directly to fire departments to help them increase or maintain the number of trained, "front-line" firefighters available in their communities. “We want to ensure all response units – like fire engines, ladders and ambulances – are kept on duty at all times in order to meet our Department’s mission of protecting lives and property,” Fire Chief Jason Wells said. The funds will cover the cost of the additional firefighters for three years.

The additional firefighters will also make the Lexington Fire Department a safer place to work. "Ultimately, a safe work environment is a vital condition of employment," Wells said. "Labor, management, and the City have worked together to ensure our firefighters remain as safe as possible. This funding will have an immediate impact on reducing risk to both firefighters, and the community."

Lexington Fire's authorized strength will grow from 599 to 620 firefighters as a result of this funding. The goal of SAFER is to enhance the local fire department's ability to comply with staffing, response and operational standards as established by the National Fire Protection Agency.

Lexington Fire Department currently has 50 vacancies due to attrition, with 32 recruits expected to complete their academy training in mid-October. The positions funded by SAFER will help ensure that the Department is maintaining operational safety standards, minimizing firefighter burnout, and reducing the risk of injuries and illnesses due to the fatigue that results from longer shifts.

The addition of 21 firefighters will allow the Department’s preventative services, such as community paramedicine, community risk reduction, fire inspections, and fire investigations, to continue as intended.

The ability to improve and expand our staffing is immensely beneficial to the Department and to the community we serve, Wells said. “We are confident that the enhanced staffing will help us respond more effectively to emergencies, reduce response time, and provide appropriate numbers of trained personnel at incident scenes,” Wells said. “Further, it will improve firefighter quality of life and reduce overtime expense.”

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