NORTH PORT (WWSB) - The City of North Port is now the fastest growing city on the Suncoast. With that growth, comes the need for more first responders. Now, with the help of a federal grant, the city is able to hire more of them..
The SAFER Grant, which stands for staffing for adequate fire and emergency response, supplied The City of North Port with about $2 million dollars to help hire 21 additional firefighters to work primarily in the West Villages area.
“For the masses, you want to make sure that you can provide the services for the community, and make sure that there is enough man power in place so when there are occasions and issues within the city that you can deal with them correctly and timely," explained Ken Bryan, a newly hired EMT for the North Port Fire Rescue.
Under the SAFER Grant, the federal government will pay for 75% of his salary, along with the 20 other new firefighters, as well, for the next two years. In their third year, they will pay for 35% of it. That way, the North Port Fire Department has enough time to catch up with funding as the city continues to grow.
“That’s a significant savings to the citizens here in our community. To bring all those people on, would be extremely impactful and very hard to absorb. This allows us to do it over a three to four year period, and it makes it a lot more palatable,” North Port’s Fire Chief, Scott Titus, told us.
There will now be 37 firefighters working – per shift – throughout the City of North Port. This new group is not only determined to protect the community, but be a huge asset to bring all the different cultures and neighborhoods together.
“A lot of the individuals that are here now are very diverse. We have a very good understanding of what it is that North Port Fire is going to bring for us as individuals, and as a group, and that’s why I took this job,” said Bryan.
All these new members of the North Port Fire Department are currently in training, and will officially be out on the street in 2019.