Boardman gets grant to fund volunteer firefighters
By Josh Stipanovich
About 25 new positions will be created in Boardman Township thanks to a $601,680 grant to fund volunteer firefighter training and outfitting.
The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant will help train 25 volunteer fire- fighters as emergency medical technicians and at the Firefighter 1 and 2 levels, said George Brown, Boardman fire chief.
The grant covers the cost of the 25 volunteers without any local-match funding. It also will fully outfit each volunteer firefighter, something Tom Costello, a township trustee, said could cost up to about $2,500 per firefighter.
The grant “will help us outfit these people,” Costello said. “They will have the same training as our full-time guys.”
Brown said he hopes they will be able to start by September.
“The big thing we are looking to do is supple- ment our full-time firefighters,” Costello said. “We’re looking to make our residents and busi-nesses safer.”
The township in 2008 had to lay off nine full-time firefighters because of financial difficulties, ending the volunteer fire program, Brown said. The township received another SAFER grant in 2010, which allowed the township to bring three of the full- timers back. Two came back, Brown said. Since then, applying for another SAFER grant has been on Brown’s and the board’s agenda.
The township now has 38 full-time firefighters.
Its 38th firefighter was sworn in during Monday night’s trustees’ meeting.
Paul Michael Komandt, who served in the Air Force, comes from a family of firefighters. Brown said Komandt will be an asset to the department. “His skills and dedication will prove themselves out,” he said.
Trustee Brad Calhoun said about 90 percent of fire departments are equipped with a volunteer fire staff. In that sense, he added, the township is behind because it has been without one for nearly five years.