Lexington awarded millions in grant funding to hire more firefighters

The money is from a FEMA Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant, or SAFER.
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 1:54 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2022 at 5:00 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The Lexington Fire Department has been awarded a $4.2 million grant that will allow it to hire 21 additional firefighters.

The money is from a FEMA Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant, or SAFER.

City officials say the goal of SAFER grants 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.

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 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.”

Chief Wells says when they received the news about the grant, the whole station was full of excitement. He says they hope to fill the positions at the beginning of the new year.