Grant brings 33 new firefighters to Flint - WNEM TV 5

Grant brings 33 new firefighters to Flint

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FLINT, MI (WNEM) -

Federal funding is helping add new firefighters in Mid-Michigan and helping reopen a shuttered station.

A near $4 million grant for staffing for adequate fire and emergency response, also known as a SAFER grant, will add 33 men and women to Flint's Fire Department.

Fire Chief Ray Barton said more importantly there will be more young blood. The average age of a Flint firefighter now is 43.

"Firefighting is a very physical job. So having the young people in is going to be good," Barton said.

Kevin Grayden, 24, recently returned home from serving overseas. He will now fight fires on the home front.

"I'm just kind of blessed to be here now," Grayden said.

He said he has dreamed of becoming a firefighter ever since he put out a fire at his family's Flint home when he was younger.

"That was our whole life in that one house. So to be able to do that and now I have the opportunity to do it to more people around my own community," Grayden said.

The federal money will be used to also open Station No. 8 on Flint's south side. It will help improve response times to the homes over there and it will be staffed with some of the new hires.

"So it's all a benefit to everybody," Barton said.

The SAFER grant lasts for two years. In 2019 the city must reapply for the money to keep the recruits.

Barton said the city is going to do what it can to avoid having to rely on the grant, which might be easier said than done.

"Hopefully we can start seeing more revenue sharing, more taxes being paid and things like that. So we can maintain instead of relying on grants and millages," Barton said.

For new recruits like Grayden, he said that bridge will be crossed when the time comes.

"Honestly, it's good to just be able to give back now," Grayden said.

Saginaw also depends on the SAFER grant. The city collects a little more than $2 million to retain 13 firefighters.

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