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Southwest Missouri Congressman Roy Blunt presented the volunteer Strafford Fire Protection District with a SAFER grant Thursday evening. KSMU's Brett Moser reports on what this grant means for the district.
The Strafford Fire Protection District currently has twenty one volunteers working out of its four stations.
But the $1.3 million dollar grant presented by Congressman Blunt will enable the Strafford department to employ at least sixteen paid, fulltime firefighters.
Blunt says the presentation of the grant marks the start of a transition period between a purely volunteer staff to a compensated, around the clock department.
The SAFER grant program, part of the Department of Homeland Security, provides benefits to help fire departments hire a staff that works fulltime.
Strafford will receive the grant over a five year period. The first year of the grant will pay for 100 percent of new salaries, however, the district will assume more financial costs after each year.
Strafford Fire Chief Jerry Schiman says the taxpayers play a pivotal role in whether or not the Strafford district will reach its goal of using the grant to become a fully paid department.
Schiman says he's excited about what the grant will do for the department, but also the message it sends to the public.
Congressman Blunt says the grant is the sixth of its kind presented to departments in southwest Missouri.
I'm Brett Moser for KSMU News.