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Rye seeks funds to hire new firefighters
RYE — Fire Chief William Sullivan hopes to use federal money to fill the ranks of the department and, he said, better safeguard the community.
Sullivan said he learned this week that the Rye Fire and Rescue Department could receive, over a three-year period, a total of $343,760 from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.
Once he receives official notice, Sullivan said he plans to ask selectmen to accept the three-year grant during the next scheduled to meet Monday at 6:30 p.m.
If accepted, the town will have to provide matching funds for the grant, which must be used to help departments increase and maintain their departments.
“We hope we can recruit and retain 10 (firefighters),” Sullivan said, adding while the department has spots for 25 part-time call firefighters, there are now only 18 active members.
Sullivan said firefighters plan to recruit new members the first year, train them the second and maintain the force in the final year. He added the grant would pay for uniforms, protective “turn-out” gear and training at the New Hampshire Fire Academy for new firefighters.
“Hopefully, when the grant ends, we can retain them,” Sullivan said, adding departments across the nation are experiencing similar problems with retention.
Sullivan said it’s a big commitment to serve as a volunteer firefighter, especially as many people work full-time or even have two jobs.
“We’re always looking to keep up at full strength,” Sullivan said, adding the grant has no impact on the nine full-time positions in the department.
The Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, which is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, provides money to help fire and rescue departments with retention, equipment, training, fitness and facility upgrades. For more information about the program, visit www.fema.gov.
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