Richmond Hill Fire Department receives FEMA grant to hire more people


RICHMOND HILL, Ga. (WSAV)- Extra funding is on the way for the Richmond Hill Fire Department and its thanks to a 650,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Fire Chief Brendon Greene tells News 3 he’s been working on getting this grant for over two years. Now, with more than 650 thousand dollars in the bank, he plans to add six new firefighters to his team.

“Safety is in numbers in firefighting,” said Captain Jordan Johnson.

Luckily for him, those numbers are about to go up. A boost captain Johnson said, will not just help fight fires, but help him protect his own.

“Guys, who are ready just in case something bad should happen to the people inside,” said Johnson. “It’s a Rapid Intervention Team, they go in and they save our firefighters and we don’t have that capability right now because we are understaffed.”

With this grant, Chief Greene said the department will have more trained men and women on the front lines; ready and available to respond to emergency calls.

“We have seen a tremendous call volume increase here, we are about 200 percent to where we were five years ago,” said Greene. “And we continue to see that growth with the new annex area.”

A 175 dollar fire fee unanimously passed in March, started to address that growth, but Greene said even with the grant additional personnel is needed.

The grant pays for six firefighters, two added to each shift for three years. In the first year, FEMA will cover 75 percent of their salaries, that number drops down to 35 percent by the third year.

“Now that doesn’t mean we are where we need to be we are still looking at about 12 to 15 more in the next three or four years,” said Greene.”When you look at the fire fee, that will get us to what our standards are today and FPA suggests where we should be.”

As far as your insurance rating goes? Well, more boots on the ground could mean better response times.

“With this grant, it’s going to allow us to have these capabilities three years sooner than what we were even planning on,” said Johnson. “So from a command standpoint, as a captain, my guys are going to work more efficiently and safer.”

They have already started looking for candidates to fill those six positions. Greene said he hopes to have those new hires in place by Thanksgiving.

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