FORT MYERS, Fla.- Thirteen firefighters with the Tice Fire District will be out of a job because the SAFER grant has expired.
The department applied for the SAFER grant, money that pays the salary of fire personnel, but the grant has expired and the federal government hasn't renewed it. This is the second time since 2010 the district has been forced to make cuts.
Over $2 million is needed over two years to pay for the salaries of 13 Tice firefighters, but the SAFER grant was denied, and the money has now run out.
"The grant is awarded on a points basis, and we did not score high on certain levels of the grant, and one point we didn't score high on was when the lay offs would occur," said Assistant Fire Chief Ted Ross.
Right now, 30 firefighters make up the district, but, on August 7th, that number will drop to 17 and the cuts are based on senority.
"It's definitely going to affect us, because there now is going to be a lot less of us responding to the same amount of calls that we respond too, so there is going to be less people doing the same amount of work," said Asst. Chief Ross.
Each shift will be down four firefighters and one aparatus will be shut down because there's no one to run it.
"What you are going to see is on a first response, instead of two fire engines begin there in five or six minutes, there maybe only one fire engine there in five minutes."
But Ross says they will remain focused on their mission, to make sure it doesn't affect public safety and they meet their response times.
"When the alarm goes off, we get on the trucks and do our job and when we get back we sit and think collectively how we are going to get through this situation together."
Lehigh Acres has been awarded the grant. Tice fire is working on it's 2013/2014 budget that will fund 18 firefighters, one chief and one administrative assistant.