SAFER deadline extended

Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – The city has received a third extension on a federal grant that would be used to hire six firefighters.

Emergency Financial Manager Joyce Parker said during a town hall meeting Tuesday that she asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for an extension of Dec. 21 to decide whether to accept a $1.28 million Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant. Prior to the new extension, the deadline was Wednesday.

“We have requested an extension in order to provide time for me as well as others to evaluate how the grant fit overall with the strategies moving forward,” Parker said.

Parker said areas of concern include a no-layoff clause, which she said would limit the city’s ability to reduce staff when the two-year grant period ended.

The grant was awarded in August and in October, the city council approved the grant with the provision that Fire Chief Doug LaFond get a memorandum of understanding from the firefighter’s union reducing their daily minimum staffing levels from seven to five. That memorandum was not received by the original deadline of Oct. 22.

The grant would push the current staffing levels of 23 up to the department’s contractual minimum staffing level of 28. LaFond said the department could cut overtime costs by more than $200,000 a year and eliminate court costs for the city associated with an appeal of a Wayne County Circuit judge’s ruling to hire five more firefighters.