Flint leaders wait for word on federal SAFER grant - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Flint leaders wait for word on federal SAFER grant

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(03/19/14) - The city of Flint still doesn't know if it will get a federal SAFER grant this year - one the fire chief says will pay for 39 positions.

If awarded, it will be the third SAFER grant the city has received and desperately relied on in recent years. This one is worth nearly $8 million.

"It's 39 positions that we're talking about here, that we stand to lose," said Flint Fire Chief David Cox Jr. "We have the ability to bring back, possibly, 20."

Using money from the public safety millage Flint voters passed in November of 2012, said Cox.

SAFER grant are awarded to fire departments to buy equipment and keep firefighters on the job. The grants are intended to be temporary fixes.

"Without this, we are definitely going to be in a dangerous situation," says Mark Kovach, president of the union representing Flint Firefighters.

"We absolutely have to have it," he said. "We won't be able to operate."

Kovach said some days only three of the city's five open fire stations are open, because of staffing.

Cox says the department will make it work no matter what happens, but said there's a chance two stations could also close if another grant isn't awarded.

"I have faith that we'll get it," Cox said. "You have to believe it's going to happen. I believe we've done everything we could possibly do. The emergency manager, the mayor, staff that has been working on this for five to six months now."

U.S. Representative Dan Kildee has pushed to keep the SAFER grant program in the federal budget and has been a big advocate for Flint in the award process.

A representative for Kildee says they expect to have an answer within the next six weeks.

Cox says the current grant expires in June, but there is a time period required when layoff notices come into play.

Kovach says if you want to help, make your voice heard and contact lawmakers.

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