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Lugoff Fire-Rescue receives $350,588 FEMA grant

Posted: August 4, 2015 3:55 p.m.
Updated: August 5, 2015 1:00 a.m.
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The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently awarded a $350,000 grant to Lugoff Fire-Rescue (LF-R). The grant will be used to hire a career firefighter to serve as the LF-R’s volunteer firefighter recruitment and retention coordinator.

FEMA is providing the funds through the Fiscal Year 2014 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant on behalf of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It will cover the recruitment and retention coordinator’s salary, benefits, uniforms, firefighting gear and equipment for four years. The grant does not require matching local funds, so 100 percent of the grant is funded to the LF-R for the four-year period.

FEMA and DHS created the SAFER grant to provide directly to fire departments to help them increase or maintain the number of trained, “front line” firefighters available in their communities. SAFER’s goal is to enhance local fire departments’ ability to comply with staffing, response and operational standards established by the National Fire Protection Association.

“I knew when we applied for this grant back in March 2015 that we had our work cut out for us due to the very competitive nature of these grant funds,” LF-R Chief Dennis Ray said. “There are far more departments applying for this grant than available funding for awards each year. I am so delighted to be able to bring another full-time career firefighter on with us to join our team and firefighting family here at Lugoff. We are always seeking alternative funding sources to enhance our capabilities for fire, rescue and fire-related hazard responses for our community to include hiring more firefighters to be available 24 hours a day. This is quite an accomplishment, and I am very pleased to know we made the award list again.”

Lugoff received a prior SAFER Grant award in 2010 to hire three full-time career firefighters, adding a fourth firefighter on each of its three 24-hour shifts. Ray said those three firefighters have been vital to the LF-R’s staffing needs in an ever-growing Lugoff community resulting in increased calls for service year-to-year. LF-R now responds to more than 600 calls for service each year, not including other daily activities in the community such as fire prevention outreaches; child safety seat inspections; free smoke alarm installations; ribbon cutting ceremonies; free home fire safety inspections; fire and life safety inspections on all commercial structures, schools, and churches; and other proactive fire and rescue-related community events.

Ray said he hopes to have the new career firefighter hired by mid-September.

The new firefighter will not only respond to fire and rescue calls with other LF-R personnel, but be responsible for developing and implementing a volunteer firefighter recruitment and retention plan to bring on new volunteer firefighters to the department as well as maintain members currently serving in the department.

There are 12 volunteer firefighters currently on the LF-R’s roster. Due to work and family obligations, most volunteers are very limited in their available time to serve, especially during daylight hours. The department hopes to substantially increase the number of available volunteer firefighters to supplement the career staffing for major or multiple calls for service. More than 69 percent of the U.S. Fire Service still remains volunteer, though the available volunteer firefighter numbers continue to plummet both locally and nationally due to the strict training standards, time requirements and availability limitations.

 

Anyone living in the Lugoff Fire District interested in serving as a volunteer firefighter can call (803) 438-2553 or come by LF-R headquarters on U.S. 1 in Lugoff for an application.

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