PORTLAND – A federal grant will keep 26 Portland firefighters on the job, despite recent budget cuts that called for the elimination of their positions.
Portland Fire & Rescue on Thursday received a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for $4.5 million. The money will be used to fund the 26 firefighter positions for two years.
Two fire & rescue stations were also set to close due to budget cuts, but the grant will keep them open, too.
"This grant is very important, not only for the firefighters and their families who were directly impacted by potential layoffs, but to everyone who lives in, works in, or visits Portland and relies on the dynamic fire and rescue services PF&R provides,” said Portland Fire & Rescue Chief Erin Janssens.
"We have already lost resources in North and Northeast Portland fire stations during budget cuts last year and our resources are stretched thin. I'm sure no one wants fewer firefighters in their neighborhood," added Alan Ferschweiler, President of Portland Firefighters Association.
The 26 positions were cut during the City of Portland's last budget cycle but PF&R managed to keep the firefighters on staff by shuffling other funding while awaiting results of the grant application.
The grant now gives the city a two-year buffer to come up with permanent funding sources.
"I will make certain city council follows through on its commitment to reestablish this funding from local sources at the end of the grant and thank all our firefighters for their patience as this process unfolded and for the important work they do every day," said city commissioner Dan Saltzman.
PF&R is responsible for the safety of more than 600,000 Portland residents and 65,000 businesses.