Ohio FD uses SAFER grant funds to hire 6 new cadets
The new hires will help the Parma Fire Department restore staffing numbers after several retirements
PARMA, Ohio — The Parma Fire Department last week officially welcomed six new cadets to the city.
“Because our manpower was down to due to 12 retirements, we’re replacing them to keep the manpower at 108 staff members, which allows us to run all four ambulances all of the time,” Parma Fire Chief Michael Lasky said.
The hiring of the new cadets is tied to last year the Parma Fire Department receiving $1,051,073 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s ( FEMA) Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program.
The federal SAFER grant is a 90/10 cost-share with Lasky noting his department will spend $147,000 annually over the next two years in salaries.
The Parma Fire Department initially used the funds to hire six new cadets last year. The additional six were originally planned to come aboard in 2020; however, the pandemic delayed agility tests and background checks related.
“The hiring of six new firefighters allows the city to maintain the required number of personnel pursuant to our federal SAFER grant we received,” Parma Mayor Tim DeGeeter said. “They’re joining an excellent department. I welcome them to the city.”
The fire chief said having a full squad is important due to the pandemic. While firefighters are receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, first responders aren’t out of the woods yet.
“Unfortunately we’re still getting guys who are testing positive,” Lasky said. “This last two weeks I have three more now who tested positive for the virus, so everybody is stepping up.
“They see we’re short. Guys are volunteering to work and working overtime in order to keep us where we’re at. Last year, we had 800 more runs than in 2019. That’s how busier we were.”
In terms of calls for service, the Parma Fire Department in 2020 had 12,016 runs compared to 11,219 in 2019.
With the Parma Fire Department at full strength, Lasky had this message for residents who due to COVID-19 think twice before calling for service.
“I just want to encourage everybody to stay safe, do what you’re doing to keep the COVID number down but in the end if you need us please call,” Lasky said. “The problem was when COVID first came out we lost some people because they didn’t want to go to the hospital.
“I want them to know we’ll take care of them. The hospital is all set up and they’re COVID ready. You’re not going to get infected by us taking them to the hospital.”
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