Roanoke County Fire and Rescue nets nearly $3 million “SAFER” grant to hire 15 new first responders

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ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — The Roanoke County Fire and Rescue Department is getting nearly $3 million in funds to help save more lives through the “SAFER” grant, which is a federal grant the department also received in 2017.

The grant from the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Response (SAFER) program will allow the fire department to hire 15 new first responders. They will be cross-trained as firefighters and paramedics so they can be more diverse during an emergency.

“Our citizens will benefit because we will have enhanced services,” said Roanoke County Fire Chief Stephen Simon. “When they dial 911, typically we can only send a few people from one station. This will allow us to staff all of our stations for the most part.”

Simon says these new funds, which will stretch over the next three years, should bring the department to full staff and ease the burden on tax payers.

“Budgets are a little tighter,” he said. “We do have a declining volunteer work force. We’re replacing a work force that had been in place for many, many years. COVID-19 has created even more challenges on top of that.”

According to Simon, the funds go into effect Jan. 11, 2021, when the department begins its newest recruit school sessions.

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