FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Put out fires. Rescue crash victims. Test patients for COVID-19.
The ever expanding job description for firefighters during the pandemic resulted in the federal government relaxing rules to help cities afford to keep them.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was in Fort Worth Friday to make the announcement, eliminating cost sharing requirements for cities that receive federal grants used to hire new firefighters.
The waiver will extend into next year’s grants and can also be used to pay the salaries of firefighters at risk of losing their jobs.
“As we look at addressing different sectors of the economy, in response to the pandemic, we wanted to make sure our firefighters, our first responders, are getting the access, getting the resources they need,” Wolf said during an event along with Congresswoman Kay Granger and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price.
Price said the city had used the grants to help pay for new hires since 2013, including 14 new personnel hired from the 2018 disbursement.
The city’s department has not seen increased call volume since the pandemic started in March but has been heavily involved in the emergency response, including administering testing in long term care facilities where a number of outbreaks have occurred.