Some of Thurston County’s fire departments could soon bulk up their staffing, the result of federal grant funding.
Lacey Fire District 3, the West Thurston Regional Fire Authority and the Tumwater Fire Department received Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Homeland Security.
The grants are temporary, providing funding for staffing for two years. They don’t require the stations retain the employees after funding runs out.
The stations have until the end of January to accept or deny the two-year grants.
“The only problem is at the end of the two-year window, you would have to support that with local revenue,” said Lacey Fire Chief Steve Brooks. “That is the only part that makes it tough to make a decision.”
His district was awarded $2.4 million to cover 12 positions to fully re-staff the Jubilee and Willamette Drive stations, which have been closed amid budget constraints.
If the department chooses to fill those positions, there could be an issue with academy training. The Lacey Fire District uses Bates Technical College in Tacoma, which just finished up training, Brooks said.
“We would have to see if there is an alternative time for an academy run for our group,” he said.
The Tumwater Fire Department would receive $425,202 to fund two hires, which would help fully staff the north station off Linwood Avenue.
“It is part of the larger vision to fully staff that station,” said city spokeswoman Heidi Cerniwey.
The Tumwater council will be briefed on the grant at its Jan. 8 work session. The council would need to approve the grant agreement to receive the award.
The West Thurston Regional Fire Authority received a hiring grant of $610,616. Administrators were not available at the station for comment Wednesday.
The Olympia Fire Department had filed for a SAFER grant to fund two positions. It has yet to hear whether the grant was approved, said Assistant Chief Pat Dale.