Hurd, Cornyn, Cuellar Announce $1.6M Federal Grant for La Salle County Fire Rescue Department

November 20, 2018
Press Release
Funds will allow Fire Department to hire 15 new firefighters through SAFER Grant

COTULLA— Yesterday, U.S. Representative Will Hurd (TX-23), U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), and U.S. Representative Henry Cuellar (TX-28) visited the La Salle County Fire Rescue Department to announce a $1.6 million federal grant to increase staffing. This funding comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grants program, allowing La Salle County Fire Rescue to hire 15 new full-time frontline firefighters, strengthening the department’s response to fire and fire-related hazards and improving their overall level of preparedness.

The SAFER grant program helps fire departments increase the number of frontline firefighters. The goal is for fire departments to increase their staffing and deployment capabilities and ultimately attain 24-hour staffing, thus assuring that their communities have adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards. The SAFER grants support two specific activities: (1) the hiring of firefighters, and (2) recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters. SAFER is part of the Assistance to Firefighters Grants and is under the Office of Grants and Training of the Department of Homeland Security.

The SAFER Grant is a three-year cost sharing program:

  • During the first and second year, the federal grant will cover 75 percent of the salary and benefits of the firefighters, while the city covers the other 25 percent; and,
  • In the third year, the federal grant will cover 35 percent of the salary and benefits, and the city will cover the other 65 percent.

These new positions will:

  • Minimize current firefighters working excessive hours due to overtime;
  • Decrease the probability of job injuries due to fatigue;
  • Cover a competitive base salary; and
  • Create robust benefits packages (including health, dental, vision, FICA, and life insurance) offered by the fire department to first-year firefighters for three years.

Sen. Cornyn wrote a letter of support for La Salle County’s SAFER grant application, and joined Rep. Hurd in supporting an appropriations request to fund the SAFER grant program.  Rep. Cuellar helped secure SAFER grant funding through his role on the U.S. House Appropriations Committee.

“Every day, families in our communities rely on first responders to save lives and keep us safe. The folks in La Salle County are no different,” said Hurd. “The brave firefighters in La Salle County put their lives on the line each day to keep South Texans safe, and this funding will allow them to expand their efforts. Dangerous and demanding jobs require all hands on deck and I remain committed to ensuring that communities across TX23 have the resources they need to keep us safe.”

“Firefighters are on the front lines of keeping our communities safe, and they deserve every resource possible at their disposal,” said Sen. Cornyn. “I applaud area leaders for their work to obtain this grant, and I’m grateful to the Trump Administration for supporting La Salle County Fire Rescue.”

“I am pleased to announce that the La Salle Fire Rescue will receive $1.6 million in SAFER Grant funding that will be used to recruit new firefighters and enhance the department’s efforts,” said Rep. Cuellar. “La Salle Fire Rescue is among our nation’s finest first responders. These are brave men and women are trained professionals who deserve adequate assistance in their hiring and recruitment processes. This funding will have a significant impact on our community and help keep our residents protected from fire-related emergencies. I would like to thank Senator Cornyn and Representative Hurd for their support on this matter. I additionally thank La Salle County Fire Chief Don Smith and La Salle County’s Chief Executive Officer Judge Joel Rodriguez for their help with bringing this crucial funding to the area.”

To read more on the Firefighters Grant Program, please visit the following: https://www.fema.gov/welcome-assistance-firefighters-grant-program.