The Dawson County Board of Commissioners Thursday approved the county's emergency services plans to
apply for $1.1 million in grant money to help fund new employees.
If the grant is approved, a total of nine new positions could be filled.
"Once we finish recruitment, we have to maintain these positons for two years," Fire Chief Lanier Swafford told the board of commissioners during last week's work session. "Once we receive notice of the award, DCES has six months to recruit and hire these positions. The two year employment terms begins upon the date of employment, not the date of the grant award notification ."
The deadline to file the application is March 6.
"The county is not obligated to continue the employment of the personnel at the expiration of the grant period," Swafford said. "The county would be eligible to apply for an additional two-year grant extension for the positions."
If approved by the Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response Grant Program (SAFER), up to nine new employees could come on board at the department and one current frozen position filled.That brings the total of request positions to ten.
"The nine new positions would include six positions at fire station number 3 on Harmony Church road, which is currently staffed by volunteers," Swafford said. "This staffing is needed to handle increased call volume in the 400 corridor area and the high residential density in the fire district."
An additional three positions would be at fire station number 7 on Dawson Forest Road, which would allow a fourth ambulance to be available in times of high call volume.Currently staffing at station 7 allows for the fourth ambulance to go in service when needed, however when that happens the fire engine becomes unstaffed and response relies upon the departments volunteers.
"If you look at the national numbers, you see we're still within the realm of what is normal given our population and the number of ambulances," Swafford said. "But we're different in the fact that we do not have a hospital. Every patient we transport, goes out of the county to a hospital, which increases turnaround time and the available times of our units."
If the grant is approved, the county would be responsible for $25,000 in uniforms and gear, which would be the only cost absorbed by the county.
According to Swafford, the grant could be approved for the total amount requested or any portion thereof.
The board of commissioners will have 30 days from award announcement to accept or decline the grant
In December, the county also applied for an Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) grant that would supply 30 sets of "turn-out" gear for firefighters and other protective equipment. AFG Awards for this round of grants will begin in March.