116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Two Johnson County fire departments using federal grant to recruit firefighters
The North Liberty and Tiffin fire departments are working to expand recruitment and services using money from a federal grant program designed to help improve staffing for fire departments.
The North Liberty Fire Department received a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, or SAFER, grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in September. The grant — for $1,013,539 — will be received over a three-year period. The department is using the grant to fund three full-time firefighting positions, which will be the first full-time firefighters in the department.
The department hired its first full-time chief, Brian Platz, in 2017, and has seen continued growth since then.
The new firefighters have been hired and will start working with the department in April, according to a news release issued Monday. Each position will work a 24-hour schedule, then be off for 48 hours. This will allow the city to always have one full-time firefighter on duty. The full-time firefighter on duty will help supervise two part-time firefighters, creating a three person crew every night.
“With North Liberty’s continued growth and with it an increasing number of emergency calls, this is a big win for the community,” Platz said in the release. “It’s the result of city officials’ and first responders’ hard work and determination.”
The North Liberty Department is also working toward building a second fire station, a response to growth in the city.
The Tiffin Fire Department also has been seeing increased response times and growth in the city. According to a news release issued the city Tuesday, the numbers of calls for service has increased from 211 in 2018 to 506 in 2022.
In response to this growth, the city recently hired its first full-time fire department employee, a fire marshal/code enforcement officer. The city also applied for a $604,470 SAFER grant, which was awarded March 23.
The grant will be used to improve recruitment and retention efforts of volunteer firefighters. Funds will be used for advertising, providing personal protective equipment and training for recruits, and offering incentives and awards for volunteers to provide staffing coverage and standby for calls, according to the release.
“When someone calls 911 to report an emergency, they deserve a timely response by trained firefighters with the equipment and resources needed to safely mitigate the emergency,” Skylar Limkemann, city council member and volunteer fire captain, said in the release.
Limkemann wrote the grant application for the department, and has been a vocal advocate on the city council for growing the fire department.
Comments: (319) 398-8328; firstname.lastname@example.org