On Friday, June 25, U.S. Congressman Joe Donnelly announced that the Kokomo Fire Department has received a $1.9 million Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant to quickly rehire 13 firefighters.  The grant is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which Donnelly supported in February 2009.

 “I’m happy the Kokomo Fire Department will be able to put 13 more brave firefighters back to work protecting the community,” said Donnelly.  “This is a perfect example of the ongoing investments in our Hoosier workforce made by the Recovery Act.  Not only are these funds putting people back to work, they are investing in the Kokomo community and making it a safer place to live.  I’m pleased my office was able to help.”

“I’m very thankful to Congressman Donnelly for pursuing this and making sure funds were available,” said Kokomo mayor Greg Goodnight.  “I’m sure individuals who have been temporarily displaced will be happy to get back to work.”

 “Securing the SAFER grant results in the largest increase in public safety in recent history,” said Kokomo Fire Department chief Pat O’Neill.  “This program will enable me to better utilize my workforce.  Many people assisted and helped us with the grant.  I’d like to personally thank the city of Kokomo administration and Congressman Donnelly, as well as the International Association of Firefighters, local President Rick Daily, state president Tom Hanify, state vice president Mike Whited, and the international staff.”

 Through this grant, FEMA provides funding directly to fire departments to rehire laid-off firefighters or to fill positions that were left vacant due to economic challenges faced by local governments between Jan. 1, 2008, and Oct. 31, 2009.  SAFER grants directly fund fire departments to help them increase the number of trained, "front line" firefighters available in their communities.  The goal of SAFER grants is to enhance local fire departments' abilities to comply with staffing, response and operational standards.  The grant will cover 100 percent of the costs to rehire 13 firefighters for two years.