The Prosper Town Council recently accepted a grant that will cover a significant portion of the initial cost of adding new staff members to Prosper Fire Rescue to enhance public safety.

The grant, which was awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is part of the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response program and will partially fund the salaries for the addition of six firefighter/paramedics for three years. The grant will cover 75% of the salaries for the first two years, and 35% in the third year. At $919,257.60, the grant is among the largest SAFER grants awarded to the town.

Fire Chief Stuart Blasingame said the grant will assist Prosper in ramping up hiring in anticipation of the delivery of the town’s ladder truck.

“Our responsibilities as a fire department grow at the same pace as the town grows,” Blasingame said. “Providing the highest level of fire protection to the residents, homeowners and businesses of Prosper is our primary concern, and counting on the proper staffing with qualified personnel is critical to our function.”

Anticipating the arrival of the town’s ladder truck, the department will require the additional staffing to ensure the proper operation of that piece of firefighting equipment. While Prosper has taken advantage of a ladder truck on loan from the manufacturer, the department’s own ladder truck is expected to arrive within the next few months. Federal and state grants for public safety are an important part of the available array of financial support that municipalities can apply for on an annual basis.

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.

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

The SAFER grants support two specific activities: the hiring of firefighters, and 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. Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, is a member of the Senate Finance, Intelligence, and Judiciary Committees.