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Politics and Government

FEMA grant could offset cost of 12 new firefighters in Syracuse

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Syracuse Fire Department
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Firefighters in Syracuse.

It is budget season in the city of Syracuse and as departments search for ways to tighten their belts, the Syracuse Fire Department has applied for a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to offset the cost of 12 new firefighters for a two-year period.

Paul Cousins, a deputy chief with the Syracuse Fire Department said the new recruits are desperately needed being that the department is short 35-40 firefighters currently and could have another 20 firefighters retiring in the next two years. Cousins said it has been four years since they have had a new class of recruits and they will hire 25 new firefighters, whether or not they recieve the $2 million grant.

“It is really needed and we’re going to hire a class of 25 and we’re going to pay for them if we don’t get this grant," Cousins said. "If we don’t get this grant, other things suffer.”

Cousins said not receiving the grant could take money away from upgrading fire and rescue trucks. He said the Bureau of Research at Syracuse city hall was instrumental in finding the FEMA grant.

“We’re very positive we’re getting it, we initially started asking for more, we were advised that might be too much money," Cousins said. "We’re more than willing to pay for half and if they can subsidize us for the other half, it’s still a win.”

This is the first time the fire department has applied for the grant. Cousins said he has received support from Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and the International Association of Fire Fighters but does not know when the recipients of the FEMA grant will be announced.

The Syracuse city government has been searching for ways to save money to offset Mayor Stephanie Miner’s proposed budget which includes a $12 million shortfall.