GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX) – For the first time in six years, Grand Junction’s fire department receives a grant of $5.9 million dollars from the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response program. The grant is awarded to fire departments across the country from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The grant is set to provide staff salaries over the next three years for what will be Grand Junction Fire Department’s Station 8. Recruiting the next 21 firefighters is happening right now, which makes up a full staff for a fire engine and ambulance ready to respond at any time.
While administration is still in the planning phase, members are eager for the next crew to start.
“They’ll start in a academy in February of 2022 that’ll run for approximately 20 weeks, they’ll graduate in July,” GJFD Chief Ken Watkins informs, “What we try to do is time the graduation from the academy with the opening of the fire station so that it all comes together at the same time, that’s our goal.”
The location of the new fire station has not been set but the GJFD expects the new station to break ground later this year or early next year and an opening for the summer or fall of 2022.
GJFD looks for grants like this to stretch every dollar available over multiple projects.
SAFER was created to provide funding directly to fire departments to help increase or maintain the number of trained, “front line” firefighters available in their communities. The goal of SAFER is to enhance the local fire departments’ abilities to comply with staffing, response and operational standards established by the National Fire Protection Association.
In this year’s grant period, the FEMA SAFER Program will award a total of $355 million dollars to fire departments across the nation. The award for GJFD is the largest of six awarded in Colorado.
Grand Junction was previously awarded this grant in 2015 for $515,000 to cover the salary and benefits of three additional Firefighter-Paramedic positions.