Warren wants to use the rest of fire grant

WARREN – The city is taking another stab at extending the jobs of 14 firefighters it has been paying with federal grant money.

“We have asked the federal government to allow us to use the funds in the grant the city already was awarded,” Safety-Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa said Tuesday. “There is about $1.4 million remaining.”

The 2010 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (or S.A.F.E.R.) grant was for $4.9 million. Money is given to the city as it is spent.

“What we are asking the government is to allow us to use money that already has been programmed for this community,” he said.

Individual firefighters earn about $66,000 in salary and benefits. It is estimated the city will need approximately $925,600 to retain the 14 firefighters. The city already has issued notices to those firefighters who could be laid off once the funds are no longer available.

“There is a procedure that we must follow,” Cantalamessa said.

The city set aside $100,000 in its 2013 budget to pay unemployment insurance for the laid-off firefighters.

Officials announced in March the city would not receive the 2013 grant.

In the meantime, Cantalamessa said the city also will apply for the 2014 S.A.F.E.R. grant.

“If we are not able to use the remaining funds, the administration will do everything it can to keep our three fire stations open,” Cantalamessa said. “We will look at every avenue, including adjusting shifts.”

The grant is scheduled to end on May 26.