Flint Fire Department applies for grant to hire more firefighter - WNEM TV 5

Flint Fire Department applies for grant to hire more firefighters

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)
FLINT, MI (WNEM) -

After a house fire resulted in the deaths of three local children, the community is questioning whether something more could have been done to save them.

Many of those questions center around a Flint fire station just block from that home and why the city doesn't have the fire station staffed.

After talking to the fire chief, TV5 learned the problem is due to budgets and not having enough firefighters on payroll.

The fire department is trying to get a new grant from the federal government.

"I feel the city is not protecting the neighborhood," said Ronald Szabo, lives near unstaffed fire station.

Fire Station 8 hasn't been staffed for months. Szabo would like to see that changed.

"My home would be protected and if something happens to me it possibly could save my life," Szabo said.

On Tuesday, TV5 asked Fire Chief Raymond Barton the tough questions about the fire station. It's located less than a mile away from where three children lost their lives in a fire last week. Barton said his department applied for a SAFER grant.

"It would allow us to open station eight back up, which would give us more coverage on the south end of the city," Barton said.

SAFER stands for staffing for adequate fire and emergency response. They money comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Barton said if the $3.7 million grant is approved it will make a big difference in Flint.

"That would allow us to bring back and give us 33 additional firefighters," Barton said.

In all, FEMA has awarded fire departments in Mid-Michigan the SAFER grant seven times since 2009.

In 2015, Saginaw received $2 million. That was two years after receiving the same amount in 2013.

In 2012, Flint received almost $7 million and Bridgeport received $170,000.

In 2010, Flint received close to $7 million and Bay City received about $900,000.

In 2009, the Michigan Firemen's Association in Swartz Creek received about $250,000.

FEMA denied Flint a SAFER grant in 2014. Barton blamed his predecessor for that. He said all of the SAFER money from 2012 hadn't been used.

"After you've given back $218,000 and then to ask for money, they look at it 'well, why did you give this money back?' At that point you're saying you didn't need it, but you turn around months later and ask for money," Barton said.

Barton believes under his new leadership those federal dollars will return, bringing new life for station eight and a sense of security for Szabo.

"I feel that would be great for the community," Szabo said.

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