PG board OKs grant to boost fire/EMS
By Blake Belden, Staff Writer
Feb 17, 2014, 13:22
PRINCE GEORGE — Prince George County has accepted a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for more than $650,000 to hire six new firefighter medics to bring county emergency response times up to the national industry standards.
The county’s Fire and EMS Department had previously been awarded the grant, with Prince George being only one of three localities in Virginia to receive the grant, but was waiting on the Board of Supervisors to officially accept the award.
The $655,860 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant will fund six new full-time firefighter medic positions for two years, and requires that the county independently funds these positions for a subsequent third year.
After the board accepted the grant, the task of filling the positions is now the responsibility of the Fire and EMS Department, said county administrator Percy Ashcraft.
Brad Owens, the director of Fire and EMS in Prince George, said that the grant mandates that the positions be filled within 90 days of being awarded the grant, and that they are currently working on reviewing applications to hire people to fit the positions.
Currently, the emergency responders in Prince George, including both county employees and volunteers, are being stretched thin to meet the needs of the county, therefore this grant will allow the opportunity to alleviate some of these response issues, Owens said.
At first, the six new firefighter medics will serve multi-purpose roles, responding in either an ambulance or a fire engine relative to the emergency call that comes in, and will eventually serve to allow the county to transition to have two medic units on staff 24 hours per day, Owens said.