SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — S.F. Mayor Edwin M. Lee recently announced the San Francisco Fire Department (SFFD) was awarded an $8.2 million Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to hire 36 additional firefighters.

Mayor Edwin Lee“This new Federal funding invests in the growth and success of our City,” said Mayor Lee. “With 36 new firefighters, our public safety personnel can keep our growing City safe, and at the same time prepare for emergencies and disasters. I thank FEMA for these additional resources to help San Francisco provide unparalleled fire and emergency medical services to all of our residents.”

FEMA created the SAFER grant program to provide funding directly to Fire Departments across the country to help them increase or maintain the number of trained, “front line” firefighters available in their communities. The goal of SAFER is to enhance the local Fire Departments’ abilities to comply with staffing, response and operational standards.

With a large number of retirements projected over the coming fiscal years, SFFD will need to hire additional personnel to maintain minimum staffing levels as well as help the Department prepare for the demands of a growing and changing City. The $8.2 million grant funding awarded to San Francisco will cover the personnel costs of the 36 new employees for a two-year period. These new hires will fill current attrition vacancies in SFFD and assist the Department in fulfilling its operational mission.

“With increased staffing requirements in recent years, including the opening of Fire Station 4 in March 2015, the San Francisco Fire Department has seen the need for additional staff to backfill vacancies,” said Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White. “This will reduce the need for mandatory overtime and support the health and well-being of our members.”

Earlier this week, SFFD was awarded another FEMA grant through their Port Security Grant Program (PSGP). The PSGP is one of FEMA’s grant programs that directly support maritime infrastructure security activities, and is administered to strengthen the nation’s critical infrastructure against risks associated with potential terrorist attacks. SFFD will use the $769,992 grant to purchase a dive boat with chemical, radioactive and nuclear detection and decontamination capabilities. The project will greatly enhance the marine operations and capabilities of the SFFD, offering a large and stable dive platform to conduct safe dive operations in the water as well as forward looking infrared radar and a fire pump for rapid fire response.

The new vessel will enhance the San Francisco Port’s resiliency and aid in recovery by providing a highly capable response and mitigation platform that will minimize disruption to critical infrastructure, commerce and Port safety. In addition, this vessel will serve as a regional asset for marine response.