After several consecutive years of firefighter fatalities, contract disputes and labor strife, the embattled Philadelphia Fire Department has finally received some good news.
The fire department will receive a total of $18.4 million in grant monies from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to an announcement released Wednesday by Congressman Chaka Fattah, a senior member of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, through its Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Program, earmarked $16.3 million for Philadelphia to hire more frontline firefighters.
The award will bring Philly's fire department staffing up to a level that will allow for 24-hour coverage, according to a release from Fattah's office.
The department can also over the next two years use those funds to prevent firefighter layoffs, rehire firefighters that have already been laid off and recruit and retain volunteer firefighters.
Philadelphia's fire department will in addition receive a $2.1 million grant from Homeland Security's Assistance to Firefighters Grants Program to help offset the cost of tools and other resources necessary to respond to fires and medical emergencies.
"Philadelphia has some of the finest firefighters in the nation and they put their lives on the line everyday to protect our neighborhoods," Fattah said in a statement.
"They must have what they need to carry out their duties and ensure the protection of our residents. These grants will do that by making sure there are enough firefighters and EMS personnel who are fully trained and have the right equipment to respond when emergencies occur."