Working Together for a "SAFER" Community
Congressman Roy Blunt
August 22 - 29, 2008
As your voice in Washington, my main responsibility is to represent you in Congress. I don’t take this duty lightly, and I’m always looking for opportunities to make Southwest Missouri a little better place to live and visit.
To that end, I was glad to recommend and announce last week that the Strafford Fire Protection Division received a grant from the Department of Homeland Security. This almost $1.5 million grant will allow this department to hire, train and certify as many as 16 full-time firefighters.
I’ve always been a proud supporter of volunteer firemen, but I also understand that are just that – dedicated, able members of our communities that balance their free time between work and family. This grant will allow Strafford to supplement their about two dozen volunteer force with a few full-time employees.
This grant is actually a testament to the job Strafford’s volunteers have already done. The grant, you see, was awarded through a competitive, nationwide process based on the need and quality of current fire services.
Congress made $115 million available to the Department of Defense in 2007 to award these grants through the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response or SAFER program. In fact, the acronym pretty much sums up what this program is designed to do: make local communities safer by increasing the number of trained and certified first responders in each community.
This SAFER grant, the sixth awarded in Southwest Missouri over the last two years, will help the Strafford fire division provide the necessary services to Strafford and surrounding areas. With growing populations, new home construction and an increasing demand for medical and emergency services from first responders, this grant will give the Strafford firefighters and volunteers a greater capacity to meet those challenges.
Since 70 to 80 percent of the runs by rural fire departments are for medical reasons, the advantages are obvious. Officials with the Strafford Fire Protection District believe that with these full-time fire fighters response times will be cut in half, there by enhancing emergency care and the chance of saving lives.
Besides making Strafford and the surrounding communities served by the fire division’s four stations safer thanks to the combined efforts of volunteers and fulltime employees, this grant could directly help your pocketbook by possibly lowering your insurance rates.
Insurance companies consider a lot of factors when setting your homeowner’s premium and one of those factors is the quality of local fire departments. I know that your paycheck is already stretched thin due to record gas prices, so an insurance rate cut would be welcome news.
High gas prices is another reason this grant will be so helpful. Every time I’m back in Southwest Missouri people tell me how hard it is to make ends meet when they have to fill up their tanks or heat their homes. Volunteers have been among those hardest hit. Whether it was volunteer firefighters or people delivering meals on wheels, gas prices have forced many to reconsider their volunteer activities.
I know the Strafford fire departments will take full advantage of this five-year grant to develop a combined department where volunteers and full-time firefighters work hand-in-hand to create a safer, better community to raise a family. And, I’m glad I could be part of that process.