Aberdeen expanding fire department with grant

The Aberdeen Fire Department is growing by six firefighters at no cost to the town, the Aberdeen Town Council said at its Sept. 12 meeting.

The town was awarded a grant of nearly $826,000 to cover the salaries and benefits of six new firefighters for three years.

The position’s starting salary will be $34,000 with a 3% annual raise resulting in a $36,000 salary in the third year. The cost for benefits is $10,542 per firefighter for the first year. Many grants require the money (or a portion of it) to be spent before the grant is awarded. Federal Emergency Manager Agency (FEMA) has waived the cost share in this case.

The purpose of the SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) Grant Program is to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to assist in increasing the number of firefighters to help communities meet industry minimum standards and attain 24-hour staffing to provide adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards and to fulfill traditional missions of fire departments.

The town has six months to fill the positions.

The Town Council voted to accept the grant.

In other meeting matters, The town will be a little quieter in the early morning for some residents. Connor Wiltse requested a code amendment to the town’s Code of Ordinances 95.02 (which is noises expressly prohibited). That noise ordinance prohibits construction noise during the work week between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. The revised amendment would limit construction noise between 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Under questioning from the council, Wiltse indicated the “workers would show up at 6 a.m. honking horns and yelling.” Mayor Robert Farrell asked if he had spoken to the site manager. According to Wiltse, the manager told him, “I can make noise whenever I want.”

The council passed the amendment. Town Manager Paul Sabiston indicated they could send staff out to alert the construction company of the new regulations.

Aberdeen received an offer to purchase town-owned land located at the corner of Highway 211 and Glasgow Street. The tract is a half-acre and would be used for the proposed widening of Highway 211. They are starting the process in Raeford, which will take two to three years until the construction reaches Aberdeen.

Sabiston indicated he felt the offer was too low. According to Farrell, dealing with NCDOT is like dealing with an insurance company. You never take the first offer. The board instructed town staff to attempt to negotiate a better price.

The next council meeting is on Sept. 26 at 6 p.m.

Sandhills_Sentinel~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Chris Prentice. Contact him at [email protected].

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