Casey Urges FEMA to Award SAFER Grant to Scranton

Federal Funds Could Allow City to Rehire Laid Off Firefighters

Washington DC- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to award the city of Scranton a grant that could allow laid off firefighters to get back on the job.

The City has applied for a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants (SAFER) grant. Citing the closure of 3 of the city’s 7 engine companies and brownouts at existing firehouses, Casey urged the Administrator of FEMA, Craig Fugate, to give careful consideration to the city’s application and award the funds to the city.

“Scranton has a critical need for more firefighters and receiving this grant will make that need a reality,” Casey said. “This is about making sure Scranton residents are safe and can have security in knowing that there are enough firefighters on the job.”

Scranton Fire Chief Tom Davis said, “We thank Senator Casey for his work to help us secure this fire grant. Getting this grant will allow us to build on the great work that firefighters across the city are doing.”

The city of Scranton applied for a SAFER grant on February 24th and is expecting a decision soon. Receiving the grant could allow the city to put laid off firefighters back on the job.

The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants (SAFER) was created to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations in order to help them increase 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.

The full text of Casey’s letter to FEMA Administrator Fugate can be seen below:

Mr. W. Craig Fugate

Administrator

Federal Emergency Management Associations

500 C Street, S.W.

Washington, DC 20472

Dear Mr. Fugate:

It is my understanding that the City of Scranton has applied for a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants (SAFER) grant. I strongly support this application and urge you to give full and fair consideration to this proposal.

If awarded, the City of Scranton would use this grant to rehire thirty-two firefighters as well as fill eighteen positions which have been reduced through attrition. Due to the economic downturn, thirty-two firefighters have been laid off, three of seven engine companies are now closed and remaining companies are experiencing “brown outs.”  These cuts have increased response times, which is especially concerning in an area with older infrastructure.  This grant would play a central role in improving public safety in the city and I urge you to give this application all due consideration. 

Thank you in advance for the consideration of my views.  Please include this letter in the official record of the application.  Consistent with all applicable laws, rules and regulations, I also respectfully request that you keep me informed of the status of this grant application.  Finally, if you have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to contact me or my staff at (570) 941-0930.