Flint getting $3.7 million from feds for 33 firefighters - WNEM TV 5

Flint getting $3.7 million from feds for 33 firefighters

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FLINT, MI (WNEM/AP) -

In a city plagued by arson, reinforcements are on the way.

Thanks to a crucial grant from the federal government, Flint Fire Department will be able to hire more than 30 new firefighters.

Over time, it takes a beating on the firefighters.

Flint Fire Chief Raymond Barton said his department is understaffed and the firefighters over worked.

Right now, he has 56 men and women battling blazes in the city, that's 14 people per shift.

Barton said that's just not enough.

“We are one of the busiest departments in the country, averaging about 2-3 fires a day,” he said.

Now, the department is able to hire 33 new firefighters thanks to a Safer Grant, which gives $3.7 million to the struggling department.

“That's really scary when you know there's nobody else to call, if a fire breaks out or if we have too many at a time. We don't have anyone as a backup. To wait, is a life. So for us to add 33, that's huge,” Barton said.

The department wants those 33 new firefighters to come from the city of Flint.

A recruitment period is open for two weeks.

The Safer Grant also will employ enough people to once again staff fire station 8, which hasn't been used in some time. This makes it easier and faster to safely put out the fires in Flint.

“That's the area we have most our owner-occupants. We don’t want anyone to lose their home,” Barton said.

Barton said the grant is a definite game changer for a department that has seen dwindling in numbers in recent years.

“We're doing more with less, injuries, etc. So the Safer Grant will help bring more man power to us, and it's something we need that in turn will help the citizens in Flint,” Jeremy Gilbert, president of Local 352, City of Flint Firefighters Union.

The fire department isn't the only one getting a big boost in funding today.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the MTA in Flint will receive nearly $13 million in grants.

The MTA will use the money to buy buses that run on compressed natural gas.

The grants will also help train mechanics and bus drivers on the new buses.

The money is part of $211 million that will be spread out over 61 projects in 41 states. 

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