(04/07/14) - The city of Flint could be forced to cut up to 20 positions in the fire department now that it's been denied a federal SAFER grant.
The grant was worth almost $8 million, but the federal government said 'no.' Now, the city will need to figure out a different way to finance their fire department.
Emergency Manager Darnell Earley said this wasn't completely unexpected, since the city received this grant twice already, but this now means Flint residents will have few firefighters and fire stations.
"If we can't get fire personnel to where we live, you know, it's terrible," said A.C. Dumas, who lives in Flint.
"By denying them the grant, I think it was a great form of neglect," said city council member Wantwaz Davis.
The FEMA funds are used as a temporary boost to the bottom line for fire departments.
"What it would mean to us is the permanent closing of probably two fire stations and the intermittent closing of possibly a third, leaving the city with maybe two to three fire stations manned," said Mark Kovach, the fire union president.
According to Kovach, it could also mean losing 19 or 20 people at the department.
The SAFER grant was intended to fund 39 positions, but Kovach says money from the public safety millage voters passed in 2012 could save about half of those jobs.
"We're going to see more fires and less personnel there," Dumas said.
"Just a second of not making it there can cost a child and a family their life," Davis said.
City leaders say they'll have to figure out how to fund the fire department in their already struggling budget.
The current SAFER grant expires in June.
ABC12 Main Station