The Southern Pines Fire Department was recently awarded a grant to hire more firefighters.
The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) has awarded 384 fire departments nationwide to receive the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant.
According to FEMA, “The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants was created to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help them increase or maintain the number of trained, “front line” firefighters available in their communities.”
The Southern Pines Fire Department was awarded over $543,000 over a three year period to hire six new firefighters.
As Southern Pines continues to grow, the need for services increases. Since 2015, the department has seen a 14 percent increase in call volume and a significant increase in overlapping calls.
The department had 414 overlapping calls last year which consists of 22% of the total call volume. An overlapping call is when the firefighters are on a call while another call comes in.
In such cases, the overlapping call is handled by Southern Pines Fire Department’s volunteers, another fire department, or a Southern Pines off-duty call back.
“The increase in emergency call volume has a direct correlation to our growth, both in residents and in visitors and the traveling public through our jurisdiction,” said Southern Pines Fire Chief Mike Cameron. “The additional firefighters will have an immediate impact on our deployment capabilities and provide for a more effective response”.
The grant will increase the firefighters working each shift from seven to nine. The town is expecting the start of the grant in the beginning of 2019.
File photo of Southern Pines firefighters conducting a training burn in downtown on Pennsylvania Avenue in February 2018.