MANCHESTER, N.H. – At Tuesday’s Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen Committee on Community Improvement, a request by Manchester Fire Department Chief Ryan Cashin to pursue a FEMA Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant was not recommended in a 3-2 voice vote.
There was no guarantee that the department would have received a SAFER Grant if Tuesday’s vote had been successful, with Cashin telling the committee that he likely would have returned in 18 months for the committee to recommend accepting the funding.
Cashin told the board that with the grant he would pursue the hiring of 12 new firefighters, which would allow 50 percent of the city’s engines to meet requirements recommended by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1710.
Ward 7 Alderman Ross Terrio asked how much an average firefighter cost, with Cashin answering that an entry-level firefighter’s salary comes in at around $40,000 with an extra $20,000 to $30,000 in benefits. However, after a question from Alderman At-Large Joseph Kelly Levasseur, it was indicated that firefighters above entry-level rates can potentially receive more in salary.
Cashin’s request allowed for “up to” $4 million, accounting for these potential salary differences based on experience.
The grant would have been for three years, at which point the city would no longer be able to use grant funding to pay for the firefighters. Cashin said that it might have been possible for firefighters coming onto the city’s general budget to take the budget line of vacant firefighter positions or firefighters retiring, although layoffs were also a potential answer if needed.