Bayou Cane gets federal grant to add firefighters
A new federal grant will help the Bayou Cane Fire Protection District hire additional firefighters, officials said.
The 54-member department recently received a $278,027 federal grant through the Department of Homeland Security’s Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, also known as the SAFER Program.
The initiative is designed to enhance the nation’s ability to respond to fire and fire-related hazards and improve preparedness. It seeks to maintain 24-hour fire department staffing and provide around-the-clock fire protection, officials said.
Fire Chief Ken Himel said the grant money will benefit the more than 30,000 residents in the 31 square miles within the department’s jurisdiction.
“We’re basically getting three firefighters for the price of one,” Himel said. “The way this grant works is that we basically applied to fund firefighter positions. The feds fund 75 percent of the salaries and benefits in the first year for three guys. The second year they fund 75 percent and on the third year the feds provide 35 percent and we provide the rest. This is huge for us because it gives us one additional firefighter per shift. It will help shore up our numbers. We’re excited.”
U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, who represents northern Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, said the SAFER grant will help create additional fire protection for residents living in the district.
“This is a win for citizens in Houma and across Terrebonne Parish, and we’re excited to see Fire Chief Himel and his team leverage these dollars to bring on additional personnel to help fight and prevent fires, educate the public and continue to serve and protect our communities,” Graves said.
Instead of requesting a tax increase, Himel said the department is thinking outside the box during these lean economic times.
“It shows the public that we’re trying to figure out alternatives rather than just asking for more money,” the fire chief said. “It’s saving the taxpayers a whole bunch by going after these grants.”