The Santa Maria Fire department is receiving a $1.6 million federal grant to support hiring nine new firefighting positions over the next three years.
The Staffing for Adequate Emergency Response (SAFER) grant from FEMA will support the positions over the next three years at a funding ratio of 75 percent for the first year, 75 percent the second year, and 35 percent in the third year. The City’s voter-approved Measure U local sales tax will cover the remaining expenses, and 100 percent starting in the fourth year and thereafter.
“What that’s going to do is add a response team here in our community, and it’ll be housed at Fire Station 1,” said Chief Leonard Champion. “So we’re gonna have a fully staffed engine company, and a fully staffed truck company downtown in the core of the city.”
Champion says the fire department responds to 28 emergency calls a day, which is around 10,000 calls a year.
SM Fire is expecting to welcome 14 firefighters in 2020; this includes the new positions and five vacancies.
Champion says this is the second time the agency receives this grant. The first time was in 2012.