The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant will provide funding for the city to hire four full-time firefighters and a captain. The grant will fund the salaries and benefits for the positions for two years. Approval to accept the grant is an item on the Jan. 21 Eagan City Council meeting consent agenda.
Eagan’s Fire Department is staffed by volunteer firefighters. It has increasingly become difficult to find volunteers during the daytime hours, Fire Chief Mike Scott told the city council at a work session on Jan. 14.
“Like most volunteer staffing fire departments, we’re facing a staffing challenge,” Scott said. “It’s getting harder to find volunteers, especially during weekdays and weekdays are our busiest time… Less than 20 percent of our volunteer staff are available weekdays.”
Scott explained that adding the full-time firefighter positions would help improve the department’s ability to meet National Fire Protection Association standards, such as firefighter response time. When not responding to emergency calls, the firefighters will be able to assist with fire inspections, perform fire prevention and community outreach activities, respond to additional medical calls and maintain emergency equipment.
Hiring full-time firefighters is meant to augment volunteer staffing, said Scott. Volunteer firefighters will continue to staff weeknights and weekends, participate in a limited daytime crew when available and to provide mutual aid when available.
Eagan’s volunteer fire department is the second largest in the state, Scott told the council. “Our commitment from the fire department side is to maintain a volunteer department… It’s my goal and I know it’s your [the council’s] goal to keep that intact.”
During the two-year grant period, the department will measure the effectiveness of the positions, such as firefighter response time and number of fire inspections.