Grant would help pay for more firefighters but city worried of outcomes

Posted at 8:46 AM, Sep 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-09 10:33:34-04

Tara Bentley moved into her Merriman street home a few years ago because of how close it was to a fire station.

"Safety was really important to us because if something had happen to the home some body would be here fast," Bentley said.

But since she's moved in the station has closed it's door.

The Milwaukee street station in Jackson wasn't the only ones to close. The city closed another leaving just one station.

"I really hope we don't have a fire or one of our neighbors don't," Bentley said. "Our homes are a little kind of close together."

It shut down because the City of Jackson couldn't afford to keep the firefighters. It's main station on North Jackson Street at any given time has just four firefighters on.

In total the department only has 16 firefighters.

The assistant chief told Fox 47 News that they have three shifts of firefighters at one time. When those firefighters are busy on other calls, dispatch has to call for mutual aid. Which is the city asking for assistance from surrounding townships --usually Summit Township.

"I feel terrible when I hear Summit Township have to come in for a rescue call because our Jackson firefighters are already on two other rescue calls," Bentley said about listening to police and fire scanners. "That's taking away from Summit on top of that."

Due to lack of resources the city applied for a grant from the government, the second time for them to do so.

But the City of Jackson isn't the only Michigan city with a decision to make.

Click here to see what other Michigan cities are on the list and how much they could be getting FEMA's Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response Grants

"We're trying to provide the same level of service with less money," said Derek Dobies, Jackson City Council Member.

In 2012 the city first accepted the grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, but after the funding stops the city has to try foot the cost themselves.

"When the grant fund disappear, those position programs also disappear," Dobies said. This time around instead of immediately accepting more than $1.67 million dollar grant, city council is thinking of the possible outcomes.

"We want to make sure that, the decisions we make today are not only benefiting the city in the next two years with getting more bodies in the safer grant but also preparing for the financial stability," said Dobies.

He tells us that city council is taking their time and looking at all of their possible avenues because if they do accept the grant, they may have to later raise taxes.

"It all boils down to you know whatever we're doing we have to make sure that it's going to provide the best public safety for the residents and also be as fiscally responsible for the tax payers," Dobies said.

City council has until October 18th to decide if they will or wont accept the grant.