By David Benda
The Record Searchlight
REDDING, Calif. — Redding officials could learn whether they got the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant by the end of the month.
Station 2 has been closed since early 2011.
It was shuttered after the city and firefighters were unable to agree on concessions needed to bridge a $1.34 million gap in the department's budget in late 2010. The $1.9 million two-year federal grant would allow the city to rehire 12 firefighters who were laid off due to budget cuts and restore fire department staffing to 2008 levels, Chief Kevin Kreitman said. City Manager Kurt Starman said Monday that even if the city does not get the grant it will likely try to reopen the station this fall or next spring.
In addition to reopening Station 2 on Placer Street, the city would use the money to hire three firefighters each at Station 6 on Beltline Road and Station 8 on Churn Creek Road.
There would be six firefighters (three captains and three engineers) working at Station 2. Those positions would be filled by promoting existing personnel, Starman said.
Management then would hire six new firefighters using the Homeland Security funds to fill the positions vacated by the promotions.
"The grant would enable us to reopen Station 2 sooner rather than later for adequate fire and emergency response," Starman said.
Without the grant, the city would use its own resources and concessions from the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1934 to get Station 2 back in service, Starman said.
"The city and International Association of Fire Fighters came to an agreement last year over wages and benefit concessions that were phased over a period of time," Starman said.
So savings from the union givebacks and budget cuts eventually would allow the city to reopen the station.
Currently, Redding officials are finalizing a financial analysis to help pinpoint when to get Station 2 back in service.
"My expectations are we would be able to reopen it in the spring of 2013 at the latest," Starman said.
However, landing the Homeland Security grant could get Station 2 opened by this summer, Starman said.
Roughly 370 departments were awarded the federal grant money in late 2010 and 2011, including the Shasta County Fire Department, which received $1.2 million to use for hiring.
Redding has applied for a SAFER grant once before but was denied.
Chief Kreitman believes the city has a better chance this time because federal officials are focusing more on restoring positions that have been lost to the recession.
"I am not aware of any metropolitan community of our size that runs twoperson engine companies," Kreitman said.
What's more, he explained, the National Fire Protection Association guidelines require that 15 firefighters be on the scene of a residential fire within eight minutes 90 percent of the time.
"And with the current staff, we can't meet that," Kreitman said.
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