Chico Fire welcomes funding after being burned by budget, staffing cuts

Jan 27, 2014 4:22 PM

The City of Chico Fire-Rescue Department received some much needed funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) last week after seeing budget and staffing cuts in recent years.

The department announced last Friday they were awarded $3.5 million from FEMA to fully fund the salary and benefits of 15 firefighter positions for two years. The grant will not require local matching funds.

The funding comes at an important time for the department who has seen its share of staffing and funding reductions over the last five years.

According to Chico Fire, the department maintained a minimum staffing level in 2008 of 22 line personnel operating six engine companies (staffed with three personnel), 1 truck company (staffed with four personnel) and two Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (AARF) apparatus at the Chico Airport.

In 2010, Engine 1 was closed and those positions were not filled, leaving only the aerial attack ladder to respond to calls in the city’s area of highest fire risk and density. This was followed by additional cuts last July which left Engine 3 at the Chico Airport unstaffed and unavailable for community response.

Last year, the department operated at a minimum daily staffing of 14 personnel with three engines (staffed by three personnel) 1 truck (staffed by four personnel) and 1 AARF vehicle. The department estimated the reduction in the number of constantly staffed engines to be 50% from 2008 to 2013.

“This was an incredibly complex and competitive process,” said Fire Chief Keith Carter on applying for the federal grant. “Our staff did an outstanding job demonstrating the need for increased Fore Department staffing and the positive tangible benefits the increase of staffing will provide for the Chico community.”


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