Ill. city officials to vote on $1.4M grant to hire firefighters

Danville officials must vote to reject or accept a $1.4 million federal grant that will allow them to hire six new firefighters

By FireRescue1 Staff

DANVILLE, Ill. — A city must vote on whether or not to accept a grant to hire more firefighters, but some officials are not convinced it is the best move.

News-Gazette reported that Danville aldermen will vote on a $1.4 million SAFER grant that would allow the city to hire six new firefighters.

The grant would pay for 75 percent of the six firefighters’ salaries for two years and 35 percent of the third year, but the city would be on its own after that.

Alderman Lloyd Randle said the city must decide if the additional firefighters would affect pension costs, which increase annually despite a decrease in firefighters.

"This is a mounting cost that's killing us," Randle said.

Randle added that if adjustments aren’t made to reduce overtime costs, he would not support the grant.

"We've got to get it figured out or I'm not going to support it," he said.

Union members argued that the number of firefighters, which is currently 39, is too low and citizens, as well as the firefighters themselves, are put at risk. They said the grant would help the department meet industry minimum standards.

Firefighters said the city would save money in overtime by adding more firefighters. In a presentation to the aldermen, the firefighters said the city’s overtime cost would be cut from $600,000 to $100,000.

Firefighter Ryan Allison, who wrote the grant application, said this may be the department’s last chance at the funding.

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