-By Seth Daniel
Money is apparently about ready to fall out of the sky in order to save the Revere Fire Department from this year’s devastating budget cuts.
The department was facing routine, rolling station closures this coming budget year and a contingent whittled down to 92 firefighters – one of the lowest numbers in years.
However, this week Fire Chief Gene Doherty said it looks like Revere will get a federal grant from the Department of Homeland Security to hire 12 firefighters for two years. That, he said, would bring the contingent up to 104 firefighters.
“That’s our largest contingent in 10 years,” he said on Tuesday. “It’s not completely certain yet, but we’ve been told preliminarily we have it. I don’t want to jinx it. We’re about 99 percent sure we will get it and it just comes down to a confirmation letter now.”
The Federal Fire Act Safer Grant allows local fire departments to hire firefighters on the federal dime with no strings attached. There are no requirements to provide full local funding after the two-year grant expires – as there have been with some of the Federal Stimulus grants.
“It is exciting news for us,” said the chief. “We were cut this year from 96 firefighters to 92 in the budget. This should make it no problem for us to cover the stations. With the overtime money in the budget and the grant, we should be set for the foreseeable future with no closures.”
Doherty indicated that they have three reserve lists that they will hire from.
The first list – which contains six people – has been in existence since 2004.
The second reserve list contains 15 names and has been compiled since 2009.
“We’ll probably wipe out the first two lists with this,” he said. “We hope to get that done this summer and get them in the academy by September. We’ll get spaces in the September Fire Academy. It just comes down to whether we’ll get six spaces or nine. The remainder will go to a later academy.”
The Fire Academy is a 13-week course run by the state.
If necessary, Doherty said they have a third reserve list that they compiled last year.
“We’re still keeping our fingers crossed on this, but it looks like we’re getting it,” he said.
On a separate note, there is a chance that the Revere Police might get funding for four to eight officers via another federal grant.
However, police officials weren’t prepared to speak about it and said the news was premature right now.