SAFER Staffing Grant
Soteria Solutions Chief Don Smith addresses audience during ceremony to present a $1.6 million federal grant to La Salle County Fire Rescue to increase staffing.

Soteria Solutions Michelle Joseph and Chief Don Smith assisted La Salle County Fire Rescue in being awarded a $1.6 million federal grant to increase staffing.

Michelle Joseph and Don SmithU.S. Senator John Cornyn, U.S. Representative Will Hurd and U.S. Representative Henry Cuellar visited the La Salle County Fire Rescue. This funding comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grants program, allowing La Salle County Fire Rescue to hire 15 new full-time frontline firefighters, strengthening the department’s response to fire and fire-related hazards and improving their overall level of preparedness.

The SAFER grant program helps fire departments increase the number of frontline firefighters. The goal is for fire departments to increase their staffing and deployment capabilities and ultimately attain 24-hour staffing, thus assuring that their communities have adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards. The SAFER grants support two specific activities: (1) the hiring of firefighters, and (2) recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters. SAFER is part of the Assistance to Firefighters Grants and is under the Office of Grants and Training of the Department of Homeland Security.

These new positions will:

  • Minimize current firefighters working excessive hours due to overtime;
  • Decrease the probability of job injuries due to fatigue;
  • Cover a competitive base salary; and
  • Create robust benefits packages (including health, dental, vision, FICA, and life insurance) offered by the fire department to first-year firefighters for three years.

“Firefighters are on the front lines of keeping our communities safe, and they deserve every resource possible at their disposal,” said Sen. Cornyn. “I applaud area leaders for their work to obtain this grant.

PHOTO ABOVE: Soteria Solutions' Michelle Joseph (right) and Chief Don Smith with $1.6 million federal grant check awared to La Salle County Fire Rescue.

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