Crown Point to add seven firefighters, thanks to $2.26 million FEMA grant
Crown Point Fire Rescue will be able to add seven firefighters, thanks to a federal grant. The department has been awarded $2.26 million through FEMA's Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program.
Fire Chief Mark Baumgardner Jr. says it'll bring the department up to 16 firefighter/paramedics for all three shifts. "This will allow us to staff the ladder truck that you see behind us. This will provide the city of Crown Point and Center Township that we serve the second staffed fire apparatus that is cross-trained with firefighters and paramedics," Baumgardner said during a press conference Tuesday.
But the hard work, he said, is filling those positions. Fewer people are seeking firefighting jobs, but the skills they need to have are increasing. And Baumgardner said the grant requires all seven to be hired by early March.
"I'm pretty confident once we start making it public and start pushing the message out there, we'll get plenty of applicants. It's just the logistics of hiring and interviewing and background checks and doing all that in between all the holidays. That's going to be our biggest challenge," he explained.
Mayor Pete Land said he's been working with the city's financial consultant to make sure Crown Point will be able to keep the additional firefighters, once the grant funding runs out after three years. "As the city continues to expand with our growth, it is absolutely vital that we keep up our city resources with that growth," Land added.
U.S. Representative Frank Mrvan said Crown Point's efforts in obtaining federal funding are making the city a safer place. "And so being able to bring federal dollars back to this city and to my district is a moment of pride because I know it'll effectively make a difference," Mrvan said.
Baumgardner says that while Crown Point Fire Rescue has gotten other federal grants, this is the first time it's been awarded a SAFER grant, after nine years of applying. City officials note that Crown Point was the only community in Northwest Indiana to get a SAFER grant this round and one of just four in the state.