FEMA Awards LMFD with Grant for Volunteer Recruitment
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded the seven fire companies of Lower Merion Fire Department with a SAFER grant to assist in volunteer firefighter staffing, recruitment and retention efforts across Lower Merion Township.
The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants (SAFER) was created to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help them increase or maintain the number of trained, “front line” firefighters available in their communities. The goal of SAFER is to enhance the local fire departments' abilities to comply with staffing, response and operational standards established by the NFPA.
The grant will provide the Lower Merion Fire Department companies with $449,400 in funding over the next four years. Funds will enable LMFD to offer $50,000 in college tuition reimbursements to volunteer firefighters each year. Additional grant monies totaling $62,350 per year will aid marketing efforts to recruit and retain volunteer firefighters in Lower Merion Township and Narberth Borough.
In recent years, it has become increasingly difficult to recruit and retain volunteer firefighters, nationwide. Major factors contributing to recruitment challenges include increased time demands, rigorous training requirements and the proliferation of two income families whose members do not have the time to volunteer. In the last 25 years, emergency calls have doubled, while staffing has not increased commensurately. SAFER grants assist local fire departments in increasing the number of firefighters in their communities to ensure adequate response to emergency calls.
About the Lower Merion Fire Department
There are 6 fire companies in Lower Merion Township. They are: Belmont Hills Fire Company, Bryn Mawr Fire Company, Gladwyne Fire Company, Merion Fire Company of Ardmore, Penn Wynne/Overbrook Hills Fire Company and the Union Fire Association of Lower Merion (Bala Cynwyd/Merion). In addition, the Narberth Fire Company covers the Borough of Narberth and a large district in Lower Merion. Together, these seven fire companies make up the Lower Merion Fire Department, a combination fire service staffed by more than 200 active volunteer firefighters and officers, supplemented by a small number of full-time personnel.