A SAFER Grant for New Bedford Might Help Save Engine 8 [OPINION]
The Mitchell Administration may have an opportunity to save Engine 8 from being decommissioned and should take advantage of it. Engine 8 is expected to be mothballed this spring, though an exact date has not yet been disclosed.
The city is eligible to apply for a federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant. The grant program is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The application period is a short one, February 8 through March 12. Mayor Jon Mitchell should apply.
Mitchell told me during his weekly appearance on my program that he would consider applying for the grant. New Bedford has been awarded several SAFER grants in the past, and Mitchell says that could make the city ineligible to receive another.
Mitchell agrees given the recent spate of fires in New Bedford, it might be wise to consider ways to keep Engine 8 in service. The SAFER grant, generally spread over two years, could be the best shot.
I have never been an advocate for using one-time money to plug holes in a municipal budget. That is how structural deficits are created. If at the end of the two-year grant, the city cannot come up with the funding to sustain Engine 8, it would face the same fate as today. But at least we would have prolonged the inevitable. Perhaps new revenue could be found by then to keep Engine 8 in service.
It makes sense to at least apply for the grant money. After all, New Bedford residents contribute to the grant program through taxation. What is there to lose?
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.